For East Enders left baffled and hungry by the strange fact that a region rich in New Yorkers can’t sustain good Chinese food, Kevin Penner thinks he has an answer. “It’s been a void out here for a long time and we are going to fill it,” said the executive chef at the 1770 House and Cittanuova, both in East Hampton, who has spent the last six years studying the cuisine and “anthropology” of southern China. Penner is referring to Wei Fun, the Chinese restaurant he recently opened just east of East Hampton on Highway 27.
The striking wood-clad, bento box-like building opens to an equally beautiful high-ceiling interior with stark white floors, red glass tile pillars, a giant wood abacus and a smoky porthole onto the sizzling kitchen. The menu, which is still developing after a late season opening, will feature “pretty traditional Chinese stuff,” said Penner, steering clear of “overly sauced, sticky sweet dishes and Americanized notions of Chinese food.” An early sampling showed a menu heavy on fresh vegetable stir-fries, noodle dishes, some version of whole fish, and dumplings, spring rolls and other dim sum made on site. There’s plenty of white rice and hot tea. The cold sesame noodles and spare ribs satisfy that certain itch, as do the veggie spring rolls, hot-and-sour soup, spicy cucumber salad, ants climbing tree, and some of the dishes laced with chili peppers and ginger and garlic. The restaurant doesn’t have the same chaotic hum of a high-turnover Chinese joint, the Tsingtao sits next to Magic Hat on draft, and the three imposing TVs are more Euro than Sino. This isn’t Chinatown, after all.
Editor’s note: Wei Fun has closed.