Nom Wah Tea Parlor is a 100-year-old dim sum restaurant in the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown; since 1974, it’s been owned and operated by the Tang family. Wilson Tang, who grew up in Queens, left a career in finance to become the current Nom Wah CEO.
“I inherited the business from my uncle, Wally, in 2010 — I never had any formal training, but I’ve worked in bakeries and cafes since my early 20s.”
Today, the business has expanded to include additional locations in Nolita, the Lower East Side, Philadelphia, and Shenzhen, China.
Manhattan’s oldest dim sum restaurant, Nom Wah originally opened in 1920 as a tea parlor and bakery. For a long time, the bakery was the priority; they specialized in mooncakes, a traditional Mid-Autumn Festival treat.
Wally Tang (Wilson’s uncle) worked under the original owners, the Choy Family, for many years — he started as a dishwasher in 1950 after emigrating from China. In 1974 he purchased the restaurant from them, which is when the business became a full-blown dim sum shop.
Left, the Tried and True Shirt.
Since taking over from his uncle, Wilson has been instrumental in expanding the Nom Wah brand.
“Being able to bring our products into people’s homes during COVID has been the biggest pivot for us. We’ve been able to ship our dumplings nationwide while keeping more of our staff working.”
Those efforts have been a key part of their COVID survival strategy, enabling them to sell their iconic dumplings and other products to customers across the country as in-person visits have slowed.
“[It’s incredible] how strong the human mind can be, and how much work can still be accomplished given the circumstances.”