In this edition of the Resy Rundown, we visit the newest location of East Village mainstay Nowon, now open in Bushwick, Brooklyn. This time, there’s woodfired pizza, plenty of mocktails, and a DJ booth alongside the chopped cheese rice cakes and famous burgers you know and love.
Nowon Bushwick recently opened on July 26, and we sat down with chef and proprietor Jae Lee to find out everything you need to know before you go.
More from Resy
All About Vinyl Steakhouse in Chelsea
Eight Things to Know About the New Gem Wine
All About Nōksu, the Chef’s Tasting Counter Hidden Inside a New York City Subway Station
Everything You Need to Know About Nikutei Futago, Serving Wagyu and More in Soho
All About Nowon Bushwick, Now Serving Korean-ish Pizzas and Burgers
Say Bonjour to l’abeille à côté, the More Casual Sequel to Michelin-Starred l’abeille in Tribeca
Everything You Need to Know About New York’s Gulaabo
Everything You Need to Know About New York’s Alligator Pear
All About Café Chelsea, New York’s Newest French Bistro
Say Ciao to Roscioli NYC, Direct From Rome
All About Gertrude’s, a New York Bistro Coming to Prospect Heights
All About Moono, From the Michelin-Starred Chef Behind Jua
Everything You Need to Know About the Return of Eli’s Table
Say Bonjour to Libertine, New York’s Newest French Bistro
1. The success of the original location paved the way for the new one.
Nowon East Village opened four years ago, gaining a following of loyal fans and recognition for its double-stacked burger made with roasted kimchi, American cheese, and topped with a kimchi special sauce. Lee opened the location more or less on his own, relying on a small business loan and funds loaned by family members. Opening the new Bushwick location was different, however.
“[This time] I had a bigger budget,” Lee says. “I was able to save up more and do this with more professional help. I had help from the right people at the right time. I didn’t have to do it all alone.” That help included hiring a pizza consultant and an interior designer.
The decision to open a new location in Brooklyn has been in the works for some time, too. “I was looking for this second space for over a year, and I knew I wanted to open up a place in Brooklyn,” Lee says. “I fell in love with Bushwick.”
There’s still more to come for Nowon, too, with plans to expand to a third location outside of New York at the Boston Seaport.
2. The menu got an upgrade, too.
Nowon Bushwick inherited a pizza oven — something the East Village location never had — from the space’s previous tenant, Italian restaurant Faro, which closed in February.
“Being a Korean American immigrant [means that] we adapt to our environment,” Lee says. “I wanted to work with what we had, so we created a section on the menu for Korean-inspired wood-fired pizzas.”
The pizza selection at Nowon Bushwick includes the K-Town Smokeshow with Korean barbecued mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, garlic and chives, or a Bushwick Buldak with gochujang-roasted chicken, rice cakes, mozzarella, and cilantro.
Much of the rest of the menu carries over from the original location, so you can still indulge in honey-butter tater tots and Nowon’s beloved chopped cheese rice cakes. Your chances of getting your hands on the limited-edition burger are still slim in Bushwick — they’re only selling five to 10 a night, just as they do in the East Village. But, here, you may set your sights on a new and even more exclusive menu addition: the Clam Soigne pizza, topped with fresh littleneck clams, bacon, kimchi, and Osetra caviar glistening on top.
“We only make five orders a night of that pizza,” says Lee. “I’m really excited about it, and I think people will really appreciate it.”
3. The vibes inside are similar to what you find in the East Village, but amplified.
Nowon gained recognition for its fun party-like atmosphere inside, with loud music always on deck. In Bushwick, this remains true, but the lighting is lower and there’s more room to spread out. They’re still playing nostalgic ‘90s hip-hop, though.
“If you’re a Millennial like me, you’ll come in and you’ll feel like, ‘Whoa, this music is reminding me of some amazing memories’ from your college days or your high school days,” Lee says.
Even the bathroom was anything but an afterthought, with Korean hip-hop playing and completely red lighting perfect for snapping a picture. There’s also a DJ booth in the main dining room complete with a disco ball that has people in it spinning every Friday and Saturday, projectors playing old-school hip-hop videos (think Missy Elliot), huge wall-covering murals, and neon signs.
Once the space gets off the ground, they hope to bring in DJs to fill that booth on a more regular basis, and to test out karaoke.
“I’m really hoping that we can be that neighborhood spot. It’s really important for me to become the spot that the neighborhood needs, or that the community needs — not to force our way in and say ‘Hey, you need us,’” Lee says.
4. It’s a perfect place to pre-game before going out, no matter where your tastes lie.
The drink menu is vast, with plenty of new zero-proof options that go way beyond Diet Coke or sparkling water. You can sip on their nonalcoholic take on a G&T with grape, lemongrass, and lime, or the K-Pop Punch made with horchata, hibiscus, citrus, and cinnamon.
The menu here is also filled with favorite cocktails from the original location like the Lychee Keen with rosemary vodka, lychee, pear, and absinthe, and the Frap Star with espresso vodka, miso, and vanilla. There are also local beers, wines, and soju.
Lee says that the nightlife and energy of Bushwick remind him of the East Village in a lot of ways, especially with the number of music venues nearby.
“I thought that if Nowon can thrive in the East Village, Nowon can thrive in Bushwick,” says Lee. “And both neighborhoods,” he adds, “were in dire need of a Korean spot.”
Nowon Bushwick is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 11.p.m. and from 5 p.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Happy Hour is offered from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and includes discounted beverages ($7 beer, $12 glasses of wine, $13 cocktails, and $10 zero-proof drinks) and food. Weekday lunch and brunch service commences on Aug. 14.