Pinwheel Garden

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Left to right Dave, Albert, Steve, and Jeff
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Left to right Dave, Albert, Steve, and Jeff
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Pinwheel Garden
Dumpling and Noodle Bar
318 Communipaw Ave.
(201) 413-5333
pinwheelgardenjc.com

Photos by Beth DiCara

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I live in the Bergen-Lafayette hood, and I can safely speak for my friends and neighbors when I say that we eagerly await each new business that comes to the community.

For a long time, there were no bars or restaurants—not much of anything really—so we were thrilled when a handful of new establishments started to appear over the last year or two.

We’re especially happy when they’re successful, which is the case with Pinwheel Garden.

We all watched as co-owners Steve and Albert Tseng, who are Taiwanese-American, born in New York, worked to convert an unused space into an eatery. We asked them so many times when it would be done that I think they got a little exasperated. It’s intimate, and we could see that it would be beautiful with lots of exposed brick, original art, and gorgeous wooden tables, handmade by Steve himself. In short, it fit perfectly with the neighborhood aesthetic.

Steve envisioned the Pinwheel logo during meditation. “As the pinwheel spins, its colors blend to one,” he says. “The leaves stand for nature and healing.”

Here’s how he describes the vibe. “We are an Asian-American melting pot, drawing on the cuisines of Taiwan, China, India, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Italy, America and many others.”

Pinwheel gets its high-quality, healthy ingredients from local foragers, artisans, and markets.

On a beautiful fall afternoon, photographer Beth DiCara and I stopped by for a delicious lunch, featuring four hearty dishes:

Coconut Curry, Pinwheel’s best selling dish, is creamy and slightly sweet, melding Indian and Thai flavors over Jasmine rice or Udon noodles. It can be served with any protein of choice.

Maitake Ramen Special features chewy ramen noodles in a broth made from wild maitake mushrooms (foraged by neighbors Alex Tyshkov and Talita Cabral); a mélange of maitake, chicken of the woods and oyster mushrooms, garlic snowpea leaves, jasmine tea egg, enoki mushrooms, bean sprouts, kimchee and fried shallots.

Bacon and Veggie Dumplings are the Pinwheel’s take on a traditional Chinese pork and chive dumpling with natural, uncured bacon, chives, scallions and Taiwanese cabbage to balance the fattiness of the pork. Hand folded in house.

Spinach Pie Dumplings are the Pinwheel’s take on a spanikopita. Layers of spinach, dill, parsley, nutmeg and lemon with a hint of creamy vegan “feta” cheese for body and texture.

Whiskey Bacon Fried Rice is a classic Chinese dish, with the addition of Irish Whiskey, natural uncured bacon and a mélange of assorted veggies. Served with lemongrass chicken and spicy Korean hot honey sauce.

It’s hard to describe the textures, complexity, and just plain goodness of these artistic offerings.  Visit pinwheelgardenjc.com to view other menu items.

When it first opened, the owners said that they serve the Bergen/Lafayette area. That may have been true in the beginning, but I know for a fact that folks from Downtown and the Heights have heard the word of mouth and are “discovering” this “best-kept secret.”

Feel free to bring your own beer or wine. On offer are blueberry Meyer lemon tea, a range of hot teas, and apple sidra.

“We put a lot of care and love into everything we make,” Steve says. “We believe food is the most underrated form of medicine.” Pinwheel strives to “bring the community together, one dish at a time.”

I can attest to that. Peek in the window during lunch or dinner, and you’ll probably find at least one of your friends taking in the delectable food and great vibe—Kate Rounds