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Silverjay Mar 13, 2012 01:54 PM

I had passed it a bunch of times, but it wasn’t until I read a short write-up by Kenji at Serious Eats that I decided to check out BaoBQ on 1st between 13th and 14th. It’s run by the same guy who does Baogette. I’ve tried two of the house specialties so far- the “ga nuong- grilled spicy Vietnamese style chicken” and the “xuong nuong- grilled Vietnamese thin sliced pork chop”. I loved both.

The chicken was marinated in a slightly sweet, slightly tangy fish sauce and the meat was juicy and flavorful. Not particularly spicy. The fantastically charred skin was the real star. Smokey and sticky. It peels right off and I ended up pulling off meat from the bones and making little wraps out of the skin. I had this twice. Enjoyed it both times. They will ask if you want light or dark meat.

The deep, dark marinated pork chop was a nice balance of sweet, savory, and bit of spicy. But the nice smokey char really made the flavor difference. It reminded me of a thicker, more succulent version of the Malaysian jerky you can get downtown or, actually, when I had a similar dish a long time ago in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Thumbs up.

The sides I’ve tried so far I was less enamored with. The green mango salad smoked beef jerky, basil, spicy dressing was actually long, fresh, bright orange fruity strips of sweet ripe mango and some of the bits of roast pork (they were out of beef jerky) in an unremarkable brown sauce. Uh, not what I was expecting here. The Thai som tam salad side was whatever and the cucumber relish wasn’t particularly special either. I also tried their BBQ chicken wings which are pretty much similar to Pok Pok’s fish sauce, palm sugar, sticky Vietnamese type of recipe. Each wing had some house made hot sauce squeezed on as well. These were fine, but are not destination worthy in the way the chicken and the pork mains were. There ARE a few other items on the menu that do look appealing that I'd like to try such as the charred cuttle fish, smoked pork spare rib bulgogi, and a pan fried radish cake.

A whole chicken is $12 and a half pound of the pork chop is $7. Twenty bucks could go a long way here. Happy to have it here and hope it lasts. I love the EV little triumvirate of Xi’an FF, Zabb Elee, and now BaoBQ all hit my sweet spot in terms of food interests these days.

229 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

  1. f
    foodwhisperer May 16, 2012 07:08 PM

    Thanks for the review. I'll try it soon. Although Michelleats had a bad experience, yours sounded quite good. The cuisine seems to be from several countries. Where is the chef from? Does that matter? Is the Vietnamese dishes better? I've had a sandwich at Baoguette that was very good.

    4 Replies
    1. re: foodwhisperer
      Pan May 16, 2012 07:33 PM

      How recently did you have that sandwich? I ask because I used to be a regular at Baoguette, and gave up on them months ago when they had demonstrated a consistent downhill trend to me.

      1. re: Pan
        foodwhisperer May 17, 2012 10:48 PM

        The last Baoguette sandwich I had was at the NY Magazine food tasting on Hudson St back in November.. Al Fiori was the highlight of that show with delicious ravioli.

        1. re: foodwhisperer
          Pan May 17, 2012 11:03 PM

          They may have tried harder. Dunno. But no surprise on Ai Fiori!

      2. re: foodwhisperer
        Silverjay May 16, 2012 08:50 PM

        I've covered all the dishes I've eaten there. It's not fine dining. More like quick food. I haven't done a green card check on the cooks. But YMMV I suppose.

      3. m
        michelleats May 7, 2012 07:15 PM

        We tried this by delivery a few days ago. The pork chops were leathery and the two baos we ordered fell apart because they were stuffed with a huge amount of the same, tough pork chops. OTOH, the banh mi was good and a side of roasted cauliflower was really excellent, though overly oily. I'm not sure what I think of the broken rice. It was enjoyable for the most part, studded with chunks of chicken liver. But occasionally you'd get a really nasty bite of very bitter liver.

        The pan fried radish cake sounds great, similar to a dish at Thai Market. I love this kind of radish cake preparation.

        1. Silverjay May 7, 2012 11:41 AM

          Tried the other night the "Pork Spare Rib- Bulgugi smoked bbq korean style pork spare rib with kimchi". It was a little pricey at $9, but was 4 juicy and smokey, well-marinated pork ribs. In my mind Bulgugi (their Menu pages spelling) = Korean style, but I smelled fish sauce a la SE Asian cooking. Still, they were sticky, meaty, and tasty. I also tried the "Pan Fried Radish Cake- grilled chicken, egg, picked papaya and sweet soy." I was expecting rectangular pads of radish cakes a la Cantonese style and really wasn't sure how the chicken and egg were going to be involved. What I received was a pile of salty, diced radish cakes, most with some nice pan char, mixed in with a fried egg, and fortified with a healthy portion of shredded white and dark meat grilled chicken. It was doused in a sweet soy sauce. This was in a carry out container, so the presentation may have been off, nevertheless, this was a....um...weird dish. BUT, as late night drinking food, quite satisfying....This place is wacky, but I like it.

          1. k
            kathryn Apr 14, 2012 07:36 AM

            Any more reports?

            I see they just opened a Greenwich Village one:

            120 Macdougal St.
            New York, NY 10012

            2 Replies
            1. re: kathryn
              wewwew May 16, 2012 04:19 PM

              Yes the pork is tough but it has good flavor. I had it in the bun.The Bun is portion is very generous. I think these folks have a good price quality sense

              1. re: kathryn
                escaped May 24, 2012 03:34 PM

                i stopped by today, and partially agree with wewwew -- the pork was tough. the flavor was pretty good, but it was way, way too salty. i'd go back for other items, though.

              2. plumpdumpling Mar 15, 2012 11:16 AM

                Thanks for the review! I pass this every day on the bus on my way home and have been wondering if it's worth stopping for and losing my seat. The skin wraps sound awesome.

                1. r
                  Ricky Mar 13, 2012 09:54 PM

                  I really like the charred long beans as a side.

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