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Baohaus - real taiwanese gua bao in the LES

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So based off a tip on the board, i walked into Baohaus today, which is in the LES. I read their website before and the guy who owns the place is a taiwanese-american guy who decided to start a place specializing in gua bao b/c of influence from his mother.

Interestingly steamed pork belly buns are now becoming somewhat of a fad probably due to momofuku, who accidently created something very similar to a gua bao when trying to combine pork belly with the cantonese style peking duck buns (btw i'm happy to have this as a fad given it is my all time favorite street food) and Baohaus seems to be part of this trend although i was very pleased that this wasn't some Baoguette type place, which puts poor quality versions of the original out to capitalize on the trend.

For those unfamiliar with gua bao, its a white steamed bun that has stewed pork belly, suan cai (pickled vegetable), crushed peanut and this sugar stuff in the middle. It's a classic taiwanese street dish although it's not nearly as common as other dishes like stinky tofu.

The place is very small with one large blue communal table and then an ordering counter. I chatted with the guy for a minute, really nice guy and he said they opened at Christmas. The menu is very small (http://www.baohausnyc.com/menu) and basically just has a few different versions of gua bao (a beef one, the original pork belly and tofu version, they've also got fries and boiled peanuts). I got my food to go.

I got two things:
- gua bao: I got the original pork belly version called a "chairman bao". They give you two small gua bao, i probably could've eaten three b/c the two are pretty small, size wise i'd say that if you compared the combined two bao at baohaus to the one bao at temple snacks in flushing, they'd still be smaller than the temple snack one. Anyhow, the bottom line was that it was surprisingly good. The mantou (bun) was nice and fluffy with that slight sweetness that I love. The pork belly was flavorful and tender, it was sort of clean and light tasting for pork belly, the fat part was perfect, the meat part wasn't quite as tender as it should be, but still quite tender and good. The condiments (suan cai, crushed peanuts, sugar stuff) were also good although they didn't put enough on it, next time i'd ask them for extra suan cai. Overall, this was very good and tastes very authentic.
- boiled peanuts: these are classic taiwan street food as well, you can get them off the street just about anywhere. The version here was a bit more flavored than normal, they seem to flavor them with some vinegar, salt and maybe some star anise. They're pretty tasty.

I have to admit I was pretty skeptical, but I was very pleased by his place and they're doing a really good job bringing real taiwanese food to manhattan. Highly recommend.

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  1. Thanks for the report. Based on the name I could have mistaken it for a place run by the Baoguette/Obao guy and avoided it like the plague.

    Maybe we can get them to add dan bing to the menu...

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/338677

    4 Replies
    1. re: Peter Cherches

      yah i strongly dislike that baoguette guy's restaurants, they are pretty bad...the name and the names of the dishes were part of the reason i was skeptical. I would love for them to add more taiwanese dishes to their menu, but we'll see.

      1. re: Peter Cherches

        I assumed it was a Michael Hunyh place too. This is good to know.

        1. re: Wilfrid

          ouch! gotta set the record straight!

        2. re: Peter Cherches

          I too thought this was somehow Baoguette connected pun, and I had just had a crappy sandwich at Baoguette the day before, so I didn't even peek in the window.

          Thanks to your post drawing attention to the name confusion, and the OP review, I'm actually intrigued now. Unfortunately, it sounds like had I even peeked in yesterday, they were closed for their special event anyway. Hmmm. I was actually in the area looking for a new place to try for a snack, and Meatball Shop wasn't open for lunch either. Sometimes you can't win.

        3. I also assumed it was a Michael Huynh place. Baoguette does something horrible to the name bahn mi.

          In terms of my vote for favorite Taiwanese street food - fan tuan, bao bing, and fried mantou (you know the kind with the insides that get all crispy and look like noodles where the bread is fried and sweet tasting. yum) I'll drop by soon - I'm super psyched to have Taiwanese street food in Manhattan. Usually I have to head to Ren Ren in Flushing.

          Also I agree with your blog on the list of places that suck: http://thepopchef.blogspot.com/

          1. Damn, that's a nice rundown Becky... Well played. Baohaus was already at the top of my list, this just reinforces what my friend who lives in the building above it keeps saying. The time is now...

            www.immaculateinfatuation.com

            1. loving that we can make requests direct; might be worth it to shift some of the attention to this thread as well:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/685049

              definitely missing TW representation in manhattan; easily echo what everyone else's requests are:

              + sao bing would be awesome; does that require the special tandoor-like oven?
              + bao bing but with condensed milk added to the water, called snow shave ice
              + da bing bao xiao bing, crunchy cracker inside soft crepe with toppings
              + zu xue gao, to walk down the street with

              peep the snow ice pic:
              http://www.flickr.com/photos/53093916...

              1. thanks for the report! are the pork buns better than momofuku?

                1 Reply
                1. re: daffyduck

                  yes i think they are, but they're different than momofuku

                  momofuku's are based upon the cantonese version of peking duck replacing duck with pork belly and it uses hoisin sauce. you can see my description of baohaus's version