BaoHaus 2 Is No. 1 With a Deep-Fryer
Fish cake on top, broccoli on the bottom
Yesterday, we took ourselves for a quick lunch at BaoHaus 2. Although, in truth, we were a bit wary of all of the hype that's settled over the place (and pretty much anything that comes out of Eddie Huang's mouth) like a cloud of displaced cooking oil, we were curious to try some of the new items on its expanded menu.
With the notable exception of more square footage, a couple of dining tables, a kitchen area boasting actual gas, and its much-ballyhooed Great Wall of Chinamen mural, BaoHaus 2 is pretty much indistinguishable from its Rivington Street progenitor. And that's completely befitting of its modest signature product, which in the end is just a chorus of little steamed buns stuffed with often very tasty things. For all of his bluster, it's nice that Huang -- unlike more than a few of his contemporaries -- isn't trying too hard to convince us that he's selling the greatest thing since running water or the Polio vaccine.
Lunch at BaoHaus 2 was an unexpectedly relaxing experience. The two staff members we interacted with were friendly. The dining room was cool and relatively quiet -- even the hip-hop playing on the PA was using its inside voice. We ordered a Broccolino bao and a Ye'Fish bao, which were $3.50 and $4, respectively. They came out of the kitchen about seven minutes later, and we took them to a nearby park.
We made quick work of the Ye'Fish, which comprises a fish cake, lemon aioli, pickled radish and carrots, and jalapeño. The fish cake, which combines mackerel, gray sole, and shrimp, was deep-fried until its skin was brown and crisp and its guts tender and moist. Paired with the aioli, it was reminiscent of fish 'n' chips, albeit with a nice, slow burn from the jalapeño. We could have used more of the aioli, which was shunted to the back of the bun, but altogether it was a delectable and satisfying five or so bites.
The same goes for the Broccolino, which stars a couple of bulbous pieces of tempura-battered broccoli. They're crammed into a bun with shiitake mushrooms, a few shards of raw daikon, and a deposit of zha jiang bean paste, which is sweet and hot and quite delicious. Like the aioli, we could have used a lot more of it. But we otherwise came away happy, and also convinced that tempura is the best carrying case ever created for broccoli, which was tender and almost sweet inside its salty shell.
The baos themselves, by the way, were fluffy and slightly gummy, like Taiwanese Wonder Bread, if there were such a thing as Taiwanese Wonder Bread. As we would have been happy to eat a stack of them, smeared only with zha jiang paste, we mean that in a good way.
BaoHaus 2 238 East 14th Street (no phone)
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