Eddie Huang is a visionary that I have come to respect, even without having a single bite of his food. Along with delicious Taiwanese dishes, the use of sarcastic and wacky dish names have captivated the New York City food scene. With his new restaurant Xiao Ye (Midnight Snack in Chinese) opening, I knew I had to do my duty and support my Taiwanese brother by eating at his original restaurant Baohaus. The hipster vibe may feel a little weird at first, but you start to feel a sense of place when you look around and see recognizable items around the restaurant. Cases of Apple Sidra and Hey Song Sarsaparilla help soothe that lingering perplexed state of having white people cook your Taiwanese street food. Why settle with only one bao? When you can sample all three!!Baohaus specializes in Taiwanese Gua Bao. All of the buns are topped with Crushed Peanuts, Cilantro, Haus Relish, and Taiwanese Red Sugar. These bad boys are only about the size of your fist, but packed with flavor.I know it’s a tough job, but somebody has to go and try all these baos. I guess I’ll volunteer to dive on this grenade and wash it down with some Hey Song. I started off with what was supposed to be the best of the batch, The King Jaffe Joffer Bao made with a Wagyu Skirt Steak. For about a $3 difference than the original, I didn’t believe it was worth it. Maybe for those of you who love lean meat, but when I think of Gua Bao, I think of the most unctuous and fatty pork belly that just melts like butter when you bite through. Heed my advice guys, and just get 2 of the pork belly ones. Next up was the Haus Bao with Hanger Steak, their signature bao. I have to say though, it was my least favorite out of the three. It had the same flaw as the previously mentioned, and didn’t even have that Wagyu quality. tsk tsk.Finally! My favorite bao of the group, and the cheapest by the way. At $4, it’s the same price as the Hirata Buns at Ippudo. The Chairman Bao is stuffed with slow braised Berkshire Pork Belly. This is what a Gua Bao is all about. Full of flavor and spices, with that soft porky juicy belly. The additions of the peanuts, cilantro, relish and sugar are all there for a reason to provide different textural and flavor profiles.
Even though this guy is absolutely delicious, I can’t see myself heading to Baohaus just to get another bite, when there’s better offerings next door at Xi’an with their Stewed Pork Burger and Ippudo with their Hirata Buns. Hey, I can even get a delicious bowl of ramen at Ippudo, what else can I really get at Baohaus? Oh that’s right, just buns. That’s why I’m eagerly awaiting the opening of Xiao Ye, but until then I’ll hold off on these tiny pieces of Taiwanese culture and stick with my $2 Chinatown Burgers.