A Hypeman's Sandwich Shop Worth the Hype
Background: Following up on a piece I posted last month about a brief but entertaining dust up between downtown sandwich shop innovator Eddie Huang and Harlem superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson, I'm (finally) fulfilling a promise made to review the food at both establishments you know, the part that matters. First up is Huang's BaoHaus, located at the northern edge of Manhattan's East Village. If you're nearby, try to visit when the power returns.
Chef and restaurant owner Eddie Huang's got swagga, give him that.
In addition to cultivating a public persona that seems transparently designed to attract attention, he's managed to create something new and exciting a deservedly trendy downtown sandwich spot that both builds on his Taiwanese roots and re invents them for a city ever hungry for new culinary approaches. Huang's food, like his bombastic style (Gothamist has called him "the Flavor Flav of the downtown dining scene"), is quintessential New York.
With a menu built mainly around the traditional soft, fluffy bao, a staple of real deal Chinese cooking, BaoHaus does the most it can with what, at first glance, seem to be modest goals: sandwiches, but with a twist, rice and noodle bowls, and in house made drinks. Looks, in this case, are very deceiving. It's obvious that Huang and his co owner and "Anadrol 50" brother, Evan, had a very clear idea of what they wanted to do with their restaurant, and they've certainly hit the mark.
If not for the neon blue signage outside, BaoHaus would be hard to find. It's blink and you'll miss it tiny. With a cramped cooking area at the front and limited seating in the back, it's not a place to linger. The music and d complement each other, and give the place a bit of a hip hop Starbucks vibe. Originally opened on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side, it's the restaurant's second location their attempt to get it right, and to expand the menu. The brothers also owned the popular Xiao Ye, also on the LES, which offered up Taiwanese Chinese cuisine, but they were forced to close after Eddie's in restaurant crusade to save Four Loko, a line of fruit flavored, caffeinated malt liquor beverages that was banned because of its widespread appeal to underage drinkers. For anyone with any taste whatsoever for good, or even marginally drinkable, alcohol, Four Loko is like the coming of Gozer, but instead of manifesting as a large and moving Torg, he appears as a 24 ounce can of purple armpit juice and battery acid.
Championing Disney fied backwash is a less than encouraging signal for an up and coming chef to send. If Deca Durabolin Jak Brac he genuinely likes Four Loko, how can his judgment be trusted? Luckily, the Huang brothers learned from their mistakes and earlier efforts, and, for the most part, their Baos are the bomb.
The Chairman Bao, "Achat Anabolisant Belgique" one of the first sandwiches sold by BaoHaus, is an "Anaboliset Aineet" over filled pocket of braised pork belly seasoned with peanuts, cilantro, and Taiwanese red sugar. Pork deserves its reputation as "nature's candy," and there are few parts of the pig that "Anaboliset Aineet" aren't delicious, but Dianabol 50mg Cycle I've never been a fan of their bellies. Pork belly is very popular all over Asia, and in parts of Europe, but I find the soft, almost gelatinous texture difficult to get past, although I do enjoy tofu 30 different ways, and if often has a similar texture. Maybe it's the belly part. Either way, Huang knows how to season a slab of pig Dianabol Atlas-Dom fat, and the sandwich almost slides down. By way of contrast, my companion and I were underwhelmed by the tofu stuffed Uncle Jesse (one of many instances where Eddie, who publishes a blog titled "Fresh Off the Boat") treads through racially provocative ground). After the surprisingly yummy pig gut, the tofu was bland, and comes across as a tossed off sop to vegetarians. But no matter it's one of Huang's rare misses, and as a former vegetarian of 19 years, I can say with confidence that they are used to second class status in most restaurants. If you're looking for authentic, meat free Chinese food, House of Vegetarian on Mott Street in Chinatown remains an unbeatable favorite. Best curried wheat gluten in town.
But Huang shines when he's working with meat. The Haus Bao, a braised beef cheek version with the same ingredients as the Chairman, manages to pull together one of the most savory small sandwiches I've had. The Haus relish makes the most of these tender braised chunks of cow face, which have a reputation for being a particularly tough cut of beef. (Interestingly enough, there's no Wikipedia page or sub entry for "beef cheek." What the hell, Internet?)
The Oyster Po Bao, though nothing like its New Orleans namesake and nowhere near as fried, is still a unique bit of sandwich craft, using pickled daikon and carrots to give a tangy pop to the warm oyster. It's worth mentioning that Eddie's sandwiches are small roughly the size of a baseball and they disappear quickly. At least two, and probably three, along with an order of taro fries, would satisfy a typical person's hunger, and at $3 $4 each, with a drink, a meal can add up to $20 a bit steep for a sandwich shop meal. And there's a very real chance you'll be going back for seconds of your favorite. The Jeremy Lin Bao (a risky name move, considering Lin's less than stellar reputation in New York), is a fried pork chop version that also stands out from the pack with a light lemon aioli and slices of jalape Though the seasoning could have been better incorporated into the pork, I didn't really mind since it so closely hit the mark. My friend, however, thought it was chicken, and was surprised when he read that it was a pork chop.
As for those fries cut from taro, a starchy root vegetable available mainly in Asia they're an example of Huang using traditional Asian ingredients and reinterpreting them in inventive yet unpretentious ways. Though tasty, they have a more fibrous consistency than fried potatoes, and the seasoning and Haus sauce don't quite save them. "buy cheap jintropin online" There are better uses for taro, and fried potatoes are popular because they are awesome. Some may chalk that up to a Western palate, but McDonald's isn't exactly struggling in Asia. I detest McDonald's as much as the next sensible person, but there's no arguing that their fries aren't skinny sticks of hot crack.
BaoHaus also offers rice and noodle bowls, but it's the sandwiches that unquestionably draw a steady flow of customers to the Huang brothers' Dipset soundtracked hot spot. The glowing framed reviews that line one wall, from The New York Times to Esquire to Time magazine, are earned as is Huang's reputation for tomfoolery. "Beneath the bluster of this self proclaimed gangsta chef is a serious cook," said Town and Country last year.
By contrast, Evan Huang is much less of an attention seeker, and he seems more interested in the restaurant's day to day operations than in bottle service club hopping. Eddie's headline grubbing antics definitely bring in the customers, and his food keeps them coming back. But I suspect they'd have no restaurant to come back to if Evan wasn't fetching ingredients for the cooks from the storeroom, as he was on a recent visit, or individually greeting customers, asking them how their meals were, and thanking them for coming through. It's almost seems unfair that Eddie gets the bulk of media attention, considering there's a clear shared responsibility for the restaurant's success. No band can have two frontmen, though, and Evan anchors a tight rhythm section. Don't forget to say hello.
Oh, and try the homemade ginger soda a mostly sweet cup of liquid sugar ginger that makes Schweppes taste like a watery diet Sprite. Just make sure you save some for when you go back for your second helping of beef cheek it's a pairing better than almost any sommelier can boast.