LES, Small Shops

I Heart Buns at Baohaus – NYC

April 20, 2010 | 10 Comments
chairman bao @ baohaus uncle jesse @ baohaus
sweet bao fries @ baohaus peanuts @ baohaus

I love crusty cracklin’ baguettes, but I also love white pillowy steamed buns. Filled with pork, even better. Filled with quality pork at a price lower than the buns at Momofuku, I’m head over heels.

chairman bao @ baohaus

The Chairman Bao ($4) — filled with Niman Ranch pork belly slowly braised in a rice wine & soy sauce concoction with a touch of cherry Coca-Cola and served with crushed peanuts, pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and Taiwanese red sugar — is a beaut, and so far my favorite bao at Baohaus. I love the gloriously sticky fatty pork, the generous amount of pickled mustard greens, the slight heat from the red Haus sauce, and the added crunch from the peanuts and Taiwanese red sugar. It’s a lot to love in a little package.

hausbao @ baohaus

The Haus Bao ($4.50) is similar to the Chairman, but filled with Niman Ranch skirt steak instead of pork. Cooked with moutai (Chinese sorghum liquor aka Chinese rocket fuel), the skirt steak is tender and shreds easily between bites.

uncle jesse @ baohaus

For tofu lovers and/or vegetarians, Baohaus also has a fried tofu bao. The Uncle Jesse ($3.50) is made with pan fried tofu coated in sweet potato starch. The tofu, layered neatly inside the fluffy bun, is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, but unless you’re a vegetarian, opt for one of the more delicious meat baos where the quality of the protein is more apparent.

For savory baos, spiciness varies per visit. The first time I didn’t notice any heat in the baos, but the second time I felt a gentle burn from each. Both ways I loved it so it’s a not a big deal for me, but for those who don’t like spice, it may be a problem. Let them know if you can’t handle spicy foods.

peanuts @ baohaus

If you order three baos (called a Straight Frush at Baohaus; $13), a cup of Salt & Vinegar Boiled Peanuts is included with your order. The slightly slimy peanuts take a bit of getting used to. Salty and sour, some more than others, and with the texture of wet edamame, I wasn’t sure I liked it at first. For those who didn’t grow up eating boiled peanuts (like me), it’s definitely weird, but oddly addictive if you keep going at it.

sweet bao fries @ baohaus

The Sweet Bao Fries ($3.50), however, I instantly liked. It’s a bao fried, sliced, and drizzled with sweet black sesame sauce. The airy bao slices are crisp at the edges, and the black sesame sauce — condensed milk based — is rich and thick. What’s not to like?

The baos from Baohaus are pricier than the ones found in Chinatown, but they’re better crafted with better quality ingredients, and are also cheaper and more flavorful than Momofuku’s delicious pork buns. The more flavorful part isn’t necessarily better (it depends what you’re in the mood for), but the cheaper part definitely is. In a few weeks I’ll be living closer to the two Momofuku restaurants than Baohaus, but I have a feeling for baos I’ll be making a trip down to the Lower East Side.

Baohaus
137 Rivington Street (b/n Norfolk & Suffolk St; map)
New York, NY 10002
646-684-3835

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10 Comments

  • Nicholas at 2:54 am on April 20, 2010

    They should offer the option of sesame sauce or condensed milk. I kind of want to go now…

    Do you have a say in how fatty a cut you want or is it just premade?

  • eddie at 4:44 am on April 20, 2010

    nice photos! this is eddie from baohaus. the sesame is condensed milk based! but thanks for the feedback. we do want to do more flavors at our new spot just no room at baohaus! we dont even have a basement! the spot really wasn’t meant for food. i was just broke as shit and picked the smallest cheappest i could find.

  • bionicgrrrl at 11:01 am on April 20, 2010

    @Nicholas – The Sweet Bao Fries actually remind me of fried mantou with condensed milk. The taste is similar but with a black sesame flavor to the condensed milk. It’s pretty damn good. As for the cut, I was never given an option, but it seems all the slices are pretty uniform, uniformly delicious. Definitely try it out.

    @eddie – I bet even broke as shit you paid a pretty penny for the spot on Rivington. LES is ridiculous now, crazy overpriced. And didn’t know you were planning to roll out new flavors! Please keep me in the bao loop.

  • someguy at 4:02 pm on April 20, 2010

    The food looks really good. Gotta try!

  • uken at 6:18 pm on April 20, 2010

    Those pix of steamed buns really brought my Taiwanese stuff out.They look exactly the same as what i had when i was a kid. Thank you for making me terribly homesick:)

  • bionicgrrrl at 2:23 pm on April 21, 2010

    @someguy – They taste even better.

    @uken – No good Taiwanese in Japan? :(

  • diva at 3:21 pm on April 21, 2010

    It all looks so delicious, especially the fried buns. If only we had a Baohaus in London!

  • uken at 8:54 pm on April 21, 2010

    only if you go the very very fancy restaurant. but you know steamed buns are the kinda food that you wanna eat on the street…other then kill your wallet.

  • bionicgrrrl at 4:30 pm on April 22, 2010

    @diva – Well, you must come to NYC then!

    @uken – Yeah, I don’t like killing my wallet.

  • sp at 11:53 pm on June 26, 2011

    i went to baohaus this past winter – the flavors were great on the chairman mao and the fried bao strips (with taro sauce) but the uncle jesse was sadly under-seasoned. it came with a nice sweet chili sauce but the tofu, although it was perfectly fried, was sooooo plain. the pork was stringy too but overall it was a very tasty meal.

    hmmm…writing this is making me crave some baohaus buns!

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