I went to Win Son, a Taiwanese American restaurant in East Williamsburg, many, many years ago, and what I remember is that I don’t remember much about it. I’m sure things were reasonably good, but nothing stood out in a way that made me want to travel back for more. Win Son Bakery, the restaurant’s all-day cafe, on the other hand, grabbed me by the balls instantly. I fell in love with everything that was on my plate. I stuffed myself silly with an egg sandwich, two donuts and a rice roll, all in one sitting. It was incredibly indulgent, but I couldn’t help myself, because the flavors were terrific.
It seems like many people feel the same way, because the bakery was packed on Tuesday. Who are these people who can just trek all the way out to East Williamsburg and hang out for a leisurely lunch? This place is a bit out of the way, and it’s not really adjacent to a commercial office or anything like that, so people clearly had to make time to walk all the way out here. Are they part of the Great Resignation or the WFH crowd? It’s something I’ll never really know.
Like the restaurant, the flavors at Win Son Bakery are also Taiwanese American in nature. Some items are more rooted in the traditional, like the fan tuan rice rolls, the soy milk and the scallion pancakes, but the majority skews towards Taiwanese American fusion. I was really in the mood for something breakfast-y, so I ordered the classic BEC bacon egg cheese sandwich. This BEC just puts so many other egg sandwiches to shame. Like you’re thinking the one you ate at that cute cafe was pretty good, but now you know it could have been so much better. I ate this in silence, marveling at the perfectly cooked bacon and eating it like a wonderful crispy skin of chicken, absolutely loving the cheese, and wishing for more of the slightly spicy and sweet sauce.
I was feeling pretty full by that point, but it wouldn’t be right for me to just ignore the fan tuan rice rolls and the donut that were waiting in my takeout bag. I was going to commit to this meal, and I even went back and ordered another mochi donut in the name of food research. That mochi add-on was the best thing I had ever done. I was thinking nothing could beat that egg sandwich, but the mochi donut somehow did. If you’ve ever eaten a fresh Korean chapssal rice donut, it tastes like that, but more refined, less greasy and just more to my liking. They heat this up fresh per order, so it’s not like you can order a dozen to go and let them hang out. You have to eat it pretty immediately to maximize the pleasure, maybe it can settle for half a day. I also ordered the fermented red rice donut, which had an interesting frosting that tasted slightly like it had bean paste in it, and the body was less glutinous rice and a little more cake-y. But it was not as good as the mochi donut.
Somehow I had room for the fan tuan, which are sticky glutinous rice rolls filled with pork floss, fried crueller bits and egg. The flavors were good, although I felt like there was a little too much rice compared to filling. Maybe it’s supposed to be like this, but especially towards the end, I felt like I was eating the back end of a rice log. I enjoyed eating towards the middle, when all the ingredients were in positive cohesion.
I don’t know how else to say it, but I absolutely love this place. Comfort food is always easy to like, and most places do a fairly good job of it, but Win Son Bakery just does it a lot better. It’s a delicate balancing act, in not being too diner-style sloppy, but not elevating things so much that it’s no longer that familiar creature of comfort. Win Son knows exactly where to toe the line.
Win Son Bakery
164 Graham Ave (between Montrose and Johnson Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11206