The Bao

By grace.g.yang · January 5, 2016
Under: Asian,Chinatown,Chinese,Dinner,East Village,My Life

One of our favorite restaurants is The Bao, a xiao-long-bao (known in English as soup dumplings, sometimes abbreviated as XLB) restaurant in the east village. My cousin’s wife initially found it from yelp reviews and Ken and I usually don’t eat on St. Mark’s unless it’s for dessert, but we gave it a try and have been going on a regular basis ever since. I think it also helps that we don’t go to Joe Shanghai anymore (1. it’s really far downtown/in the middle of nowhere in midtown and 2. it was shut by the DOH (Chinatown AND Midtown!). To get our soup dumpling fix, we just walk down to The Bao.

My mom is also a huge fan of the restaurant and has been known to go for lunch and dinner on the same day – the owner recognizes her whenever we go with her now. I think the tally for her last visit was 4 dinners (some with me and Ken and some with David or by herself). Here’s what I love to order at the restaurant.

The scallion pancake is freshly fried for you – these are better than the scallion pancakes with beef that the restaurant has because they add a sweet hoisin sauce that they can’t be removed upon request:


My hands down favorite order is the chives sautéed with pork and black beans:


This dish is salty and a little spicy but has a very addictive flavor and I like how all of the items in the dish are evenly sized. The dish pairs very nicely with rice (which has to be ordered individually – rice doesn’t come per entree).

The soup I always need to order (even when it’s hot outside) is the westlake soup – this is usually a chicken or pork based broth with pork, tofu, cilantro and egg white:


The cilantro brings all of the flavors together but it has a very strong flavor so if you don’t like cilantro, stay away!

For veggies, I love ordering the Chinese water spinach, the green beans, or the sautéed pea shoots with garlic:


And of course, you have to order the Kung Fu xiao long bao:


Six per order, the skin isn’t too thick like some restaurants, and the pork inside tastes like it’s pretty good quality.

Here are some things to know:

– the wait times are pretty ridiculous because the restaurant is popular (good for them, bad for us!)
– they don’t have hot water but they do have hot tea. I’m wondering how they make the tea?
– tea isn’t free refills (okay, but then they need to pour you a full glass if you order it!)
– the portions have gotten significantly smaller since they opened a year ago but their prices have only gone up. (the last time we went, the westlake soup container was half filled!)

Even with my gripes, I still love the restaurant and it’s my favorite Chinese restaurant in New York at the moment. Let me know if you like the dishes there – and tell me what you ordered that I didn’t mention!

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