This week I’m breaking the mold and doing a two-for-one. Not because I’m lazy, because believe you me, buddy, I would take every excuse I possibly could to split this into two wreviews, but because of the setting I just can’t. Berg’n just happens to be the venue, which I’ll talk more about after the intro, so let us just get straight into this week’s wreview of…
Lumpia Shack & Mighty Quinn’s at Berg’n
899 Bergen Street, Brooklyn (Crown Heights)
This week I was joined by the unstoppable Janna Cisterino, the ever-wingthusiastic Michael David, and newcomer Sami Kerwin, who does some really kick ass art you should check out on her Instagram (she does commisions, too!)
Berg’n is a pretty kick ass beer hall. The interior is a huge open space with a ton of indoor picnic-style tables, board games aplenty, a giant bar with rotating drafts, a smaller albeit decent sized counter for coffee and pastries, and various events throughout the week including (on this particular night) ping-pong. Regardless of how the wings are, this is for sure a spot you want to check out in Brooklyn, especially if you’re young and cool. I mean, like adult young. Like in your 20’s I guess, or even 30’s I suppose, considering that that’s where I’m at. Anyways, Berg’n is a really awesome spot.
So there are actually four different vendors here, all with different menus, but I’ll focus on the two at hand. Mighty Quinn’s is a serious BBQ joint, serving up brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, and wings. They have some sides too. Lumpia Shack is a Filipino inspired menu selling lumpia (Filipino style egg-rolls, basically) some various kinds of rice bowls, and Adobo wings.
The PPW for Mighty Quinn’s is $1.37 for 6 or 10, with no price break in between. For Lumpia Shack, it’s a solid $1.33 for 6 wings.
What We Ordered
This spot is a little redundant with the exception of quantities, because each place only offers one kind of wing. Mighty Quinn’s has theirs labeled on the board as “spicy wings” while Lumpia Shack calls theirs the “Berg’n Adobo” wing. Some really not hard internet sleuthing shows that the actual Lumpia Shack location omits the “Berg’n” part from this, but they otherwise appear the same. I’ll add here that Lumpia Shack does offer a heat variation on their sauce of mild, medium, or hot. On this visit, we ordered two each of Mighty Quinn’s 10-pieces and Lumpia Shack’s ‘hot’ wings.
Some points are muddied here because even though this is a nice big beer hall, the food from all the vendors are served in cardboard containers, high-end food-truck style. Neither place gave wetnaps, but we were given some later on by one of the Berg’n Staff
These wings look gorgeous even despite the container. Haphazardly piled in a way that doesn’t look like a total mess, topped with sesame seeds and cilantro, and served with pickled celery. It’s with the grace of forgiving the cardboard container that these get a 4/5.
Breaded and sauced, these were served in round bowls and topped with a roasted coconut dusting. They looked pretty good, but with the puddled sauce and the lack of any other sort of garnish or… I guess decoration or dressing up? The score would be lower, but the flats are served with the wingtip still attached, which goes a loooong way for me. It’s not a bad plating, but it is a bit of a messy one without much fanfare. 3/5.
“[The] sauce was good but not spectacular, tastes vaguely like General Tso’s…” says JC giving it one of the kinder treatments. SK thought they were “closer to teriyaki than adobo… [the] sauce didn’t stay on the wing so well.” MD was able to muster an unenthusiastic “meh.” As best as I could tell, the heat variations they offer on the sauce here amounts to what kind of pepper, if any, they add to the sauce. That said, even with the hot peppers included, if you got a bite with spice in it the heat was a little lackluster at best and had no staying power. The sauce was sweet and sticky, but even despite this it somehow managed to slide right off the wing. Among my crew, I fought hardest for the fact that it does have an adobo flavor, but it is admittedly weak and almost lost among a somewhat generic “Asian” flavor. It wasn’t an entirely bad sauce, but it was a disappointment for what was advertised for both heat and flavor, which drops it down just barely enough to get a 2/5.
“Smokey” was a word used by literally everyone in attendance, SK elaborating that it was “great, just enough heat that lingers and builds.” MD noted the “hint of low, back of the tongue heat” and said it was “exactly the kind of wing you want from a BBQ joint.” JC found it had a “nice heat, spicy but bearable.” There are a lot of layers to this flavor, the first being a tell-tale BBQ sweetness which lasts just long enough to notice before you’re washed over with a layer of amazing smokiness. The heat builds with each successive wing, landing and staying on a level that’s about a notch above the average “hot” wing, which is just comfortable enough for me to keep eating even with a mouth on fire. There was not as much flavor to it as I might like, but it’s a really damn delicious 4/5.
Some post-script here, because I don’t normally tout the veggies or sauces because they’re usually irrelevant, but for real, the pickled celery was incredible, and everyone should serve pickled veg with their wings because holy heck is it amazing.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of breaded wings, but they have an outstanding one here. There’s a great crunch to the outside, and it seals the flavor inside of the wing just right, so with each bite you can really taste the chicken itself. Each wing is meaty and flavorful, and with the flats still having the tips included you have that great crunchy tip to gnaw on. I don’t know what else to add, except that it’s a damn good wing. 4/5.
The wings here are (lack of breading not-withstanding) definitely smaller than the wings at Lumpia, but they are in no way inferior. I’m willing to make the leap that these wings come by their smokiness honestly given the way the meat falls off the bone without being overly greasy or overly dry. By the time we finished them, the bones were clean without any extra effort expended on excess chomping. While the size leaves a little to be desired, the preparation and effort goes miles to overcome this, and if there’s any complaint I could make about them its that I wish they were either a touch crunchier or a touch juicier. Landing in the middle ground between two amazing choices is not a bad thing, and these are an easy 4/5.
The Hot Take
With a price that is, in both cases, a couple cents above the median for most NYC wings, I won’t really touch on that on an individual basis, but as always it factors in as much as it needs to.
Lumpia is serving up a huge juicy wing with a sauce that is, all cards on the table, struggling for mediocrity. This aside, I don’t think that any order of wings you get here will disappoint, but it’s also not going to wow anyone at the table. A lackluster sauce on a delicious wing evens out to a decent 3/5. Or, as Sami put it:
Unfortunately MD missed out on the Duke’s wreview, which is where I laid my heart and reputation on the line for how much I love a smokey wing, and how far that flavor will go for me. I won’t lie, the smokiness in the flavor did a lot for me, but I remain as honest as ever here. It’s a simple flavor with some subtle complexities, on a wing that pours itself right into your mouth. The only complaint that we had overall is that it lacked a good crunch or any sort of crispiness that defines a perfect wing. It’s not a sin to fall short of perfection, and this wing is a strong 4/5. Again, our present artist provides:
Nothing to add here this week. In lieu of additional details, let me put a call out to people here: I want to hear from you! Tell me what MaxFun NYC means to you! Give me any of your stories or feelings or thoughts about the community here, good or bad. PLEASE, I genuinely want to know! Send it all to the email address below! Here’s another exclamation point for good measure!
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