Cantonese restaurant

Calvin Eng, Chef of Brooklyn’s Liveliest Restaurant, Owns a Piece of NYC Dining History

WHO?

Calvin and his pup Remi are lounging in their Williamsburg apartment.

Growing up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Calvin Eng resisted the cuisine of his heritage. But after learning French techniques in Johnson & Wales University’s culinary program and cooking professionally at restaurants like Nom Wah Nolita and Win Son, the 27-year-old chef is finally embracing his culinary culture at his own American Cantonese restaurant.

Named after his immigrant mother, Bonnie’s celebrates the foods Calvin reluctantly ate as a child. The menu is filled with traditional banquet platters like hop ha (fried prawns with candied walnuts), as well as revisited classics such as wun tun en brodo (Fish and shrimp wontons in a superior citrus-parmesan broth.)

Bonnie’s occupies a corner of Williamsburg just a 10-minute walk from the apartment Calvin shares with his video producer girlfriend Phoebe Melnick. “I always knew I wanted to keep it in Brooklyn,” he insists, citing both a love for his home borough and convenient parking as reasons for choosing the location.

The couple co-designed the restaurant inspired by Hong Kong restaurants as well as their cozy one-bedroom rental, emphasizing a minimal yet warm aesthetic and unique treasures in both locations. “Calvin is really a big fan of having things no one else can have,” Phoebe explains, to which he confirms, “It doesn’t have to be expensive or special, just unique.”

When?

Although many restaurants have closed throughout the pandemic, the industry was still shocked to see Chelsea institution Del Posto announce its closure in April 2021. The only consolation was its ‘everything must’ auction. disappear” which included storefront furniture, light fixtures, decor, and more. “It was big news,” Calvin recalled.

At the time, Bonnie’s was under construction, and Calvin thought he might be able to pick up high-end necessities at low prices. He needed glassware and refrigerators, in particular. Although he doesn’t usually buy used devices, new options were out of stock and he trusted the establishment’s quality control. “Of course, Del Posto was going to use the best of the best,” he said.

Where?

On the day of the auction, Phoebe monitored the live stream from her laptop at home. It went on for hours, so she ended up looking on her phone and meeting Calvin for a drink at Talea Beer Co. Although the glassware and refrigeration proved too expensive, a burgundy-colored marble table attracted Phoebe’s attention.

The auctioneer mentioned a small crack in the stone, but the live stream was so blurry and off-kilter that Calvin and Phoebe couldn’t properly assess the damage. Liquid courage, however, prompted them to bid on the table anyway, and they won it for $40. Plus, they managed to snag a butter-colored marble bowl to go with it.

The couple topped their Frankentable with their Del Posto bowl for a marble-on-marble look.

What?

Immediately after claiming their prize, Calvin and Phoebe realized the auctioneer had grossly underestimated the size, severity and number of fractures in the painting. “Everything was cracked and that’s why nobody else is bidding on it, I guess,” he recalled. “It was too good to be true.”