The Early Word--Baoguette Cafe
The place is cute--large color photographs of Vietnam on the walls, garlands of ginger and chiles hanging from the ceiling, two communal blond wood tables and a bar facing the open kitchen. The menu offers the banh mi that are served at Baoguette, and adds a selection of pho and bun (rice noodle bowls). Chef Michael "Bao" Huynh was in the kitchen himself.
Some of the most interesting stuff is on the appetizer section--Vietnamese crepes with pork belly and shrimp, house-made lemongrass sausage, grilled corn on the cob dusted with dried shrimp--but those are only available at night. The only appetizer that's made for lunch service is the green papaya salad ($6, pictured above) which was fine. It could have used more spice (and I asked for extra spicy) and depth of flavor. I did appreciate that it was scattered with a very generous number of perfectly cooked shrimp.
And this is the bun with grilled pork chop and shrimp ($9). I often get this at Pho Tu Do and Pho Grand, and Baoguette's version is just as good. The noodles, in particular, showed that care had been taken--they were supple, and not overcooked, as is sometimes the case.
Sadly, the soft serve was sold out, so I'll have to go back for that pandan soft serve.
37 St. Mark's Place 212-380-1487
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