Brooklyn News Review

Brooklyn Magazine: Fan Fried Rice Bar has officially moved from Bed-Stuy to Williamsburg

New digs on Driggs (Scott Lynch)

Chef and owner Paul Chen loved his original Fan Fried Rice Bar, a nifty little counter-service spot on a random stretch of DeKalb Avenue in Bed-Stuy which, sadly, he had to close after three years this past winter.

Not that it was doing poorly, business-wise. But Chen tells Brooklyn Magazine that his plan all along was to expand—fried rice specialty shops are ubiquitous in his home-city of Taipei, and he was surprised when he moved here 10 years ago that he couldn’t find even one in Brooklyn—so when he discovered this much larger space in Williamsburg, and it included a back room which he could convert into a full-service dining area, he jumped at the opportunity, even if pandemic-related labor challenges made it impossible for him to comfortably operate both restaurants simultaneously.

What’s Bed-Stuy’s loss is Williamsburg’s gain, and Fan Fried Rice Bar redux is settling in nicely here on the corner of Driggs and South Second Street.

The menu is anchored, unsurprisingly, by Chen’s fried rice, which comes in lots of appealing varieties. The half dozen classic egg fried rice dishes, which Chen says are “really true to Tawianese flavor,” is led by the bone-in pork chop iteration, which features a breaded, fried, and juicy slab of pig covering a mound of Fan’s basic foundation of chewy, egg-, scallion-, and onion-infused grains. The Taiwanese sausage with edamame is another good choice in this category, as is the one studded with three kinds of mushrooms, cremini, shiitake, and white button.

Pastrami egg fried rice; $18 (Scott Lynch)

Chen has some tricks up sleeve, too. My favorite dish at Fan falls in the Specialty Egg Fried Rice section—it’s listed as simply “pastrami”—which arrives loaded with chunks of funky meat, garlic fried to a crisp, peanuts for additional crunch, and enough Sichuan peppercorn to make you sit up straight and take notice. Other more “New York-style fried rice dishes,” as Chen calls them, include a chorizo bowl, and a spicy shrimp number with gochugaru and mango.

Pastrami egg fried rice; $18 (Scott Lynch)

The fried rice dishes have plenty of heft, but you’ll likely want a few of Chen’s appetizers at your table as well. The cucumber salad, soaked in chili oil, the zippy golden kimchi, and the vegan mapo tofu all make for good summertime selections here, as does the menu’s newest item, the vegetable cold noodle salad, which could be called “zoodle salad” and co-stars plant-based ground “beef” and about a week’s worth of my usual garlic intake.

Vegetable cold noodle salad; $15 (Scott Lynch)

If you want something meatier to start, the fried popcorn chicken is fun and hits the spot, and the pair of plump, porky Taiwanese sausages go exceptionally well with every fried rice dish I’ve tried here so far.

Taiwanese sausage; $12 (Scott Lynch)

Most of these dishes were also available at the Bed-Stuy original, but there is one big change: Fan Fried Rice Bar now boasts a fully stocked bar as well, serving beer, wine, sake, and hard seltzer.

Chen says the modest-sized back dining room, which somehow used to be a three-bedroom apartment, will be open as soon as the tables he ordered arrive. In the meantime, sidewalk seating is up and running along on South Second Street.

“I’ve lived in Williamsburg for three years,” says Chen, “and this is a very nice part of the neighborhood, with a lot of long-time residents very happy we are here because this space has been empty for so long. Everyone passing by asks questions, wishes me good luck, and makes me feel very welcome.”

Fan Fried Rice is located at 740 Driggs Avenue, at the corner of South Second Street, and is currently open on Tuesday through Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. (929-290-2197)

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