Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Baohaus - New York

Back: two Chairman Bao flanking a House Bao. Front: two Birdhaus Bao.
I had never heard of Chef Eddie Huang until he recapped Top Chef Masters season 3 for Eater, and then I just figured he was some insane and possibly drug-addled loon. Honestly, half the shit he wrote had more to do with basketball and hip hop than it did with the show he was recapping. Not being a fan of either, it pained me to pore through them in order to glean a usable bit for the weekly All Top Chef Recap Roundup. Then he did a special for Cooking Channel called Cheap Bites, in which he traveled around the country, eating other people's food - basically being Guy Fieri, without the greasy sunglasses - and eventually showing off his own restaurant, Baohaus, in New York's East Village.

Baohaus, not to be confused with the German art school, the Bauhaus, or the 80s band by the same name, serves several varieties of bao, or Chinese steamed buns. You may be most familiar with char siu bao, the steamed buns filled with Chinese bbq roast pork often served during dim sum. Those things that, if allowed to sit around for too long, take on the texture of a damp washcloth. Properly made, they should be light, fluffy, and tender. As they are at Baohaus.

On a recent trip to NY, my friend David Dust and I paid a visit to Huang's hole-in-the-wall establishment. Literally, the place is tiny - a long, narrow corridor with a sort of kitchen in the front and three counters with about 5 stools in the back. The menu is small - 7 varieties of bao, taro fries, minced pork on rice, Taiwanese fried chicken, and that's about it. But that's enough. Mr Dust and I placed an order for three types of Bao and an order of taro fries and took seats at one of the counters in the back, where we shouted at each other over the loud hip-hop music. Random people straggled in and out, some ordering food, some seemingly employees, and others appearing to be controlling the musical selections on an open laptop. Or maybe they were just playing Free Cell - who knows? What I do know is that the food was good. Damn good. The pork belly in the Chairman Bao was meltingly tender, the beef cheek in the house bao was too, and combined with their toppings of crushed peanut, cilantro, Haus Relish, and Taiwanese red sugar, were finger lickin' good. And then there was the Taiwanese fried chicken in the Birdhaus bao, which could put the Colonel to shame. Juicy, tender, and crispy, it tasted like more. So we ordered more. I also tried the "oyster po bao," a humongous, crispy, fried oyster topped with marinated daikon and carrot, paté, and lemon mayo. More like a Vietnamese banh mi than a Cajun po' boy, but whatever. It was good. Taro fries were good, too, super duper crispy with fluffy insides and served with a little cup of sesame-oil-scented Haus sauce.

We ended up making pigs of ourselves, but who can blame us? The food was damn tasty, and with the most expensive bao at only $3.99, cheap eats in New York. I'd go back. With earplugs.

238 E 14th St
New York, NY 10003
(646) 669-8889

Baohaus  on Urbanspoon

Posted on Minxeats.com.