Bar Bao has just the thing for icy weather: yam soup with rock shrimp, crispy leek, and garlic oil. Simon calls it the perfect winter comfort food. But summer rolls are very good too, he adds, especially the ones with Berkshire pork. And daikon duck hash is rich and deeply delicious: gamy duck bacon with slow-poached egg, a noodle-ish radish-and-rice-flour concoction, and sweet dark soy.
This lounge-y uptown spot, open since October, is the latest stop for Chef Michael Huynh (Mai House, Bun), and like his previous restaurants it offers an upscale take on Vietnamese—not usually the way hounds like it. Yet Simon, who shuns “fusiony or inauthentic or otherwise tarted-up or westernized Asian food,” is a fan: “while it’s far from rootsy Vietnamese food, the high quality of ingredients and execution make the menu satisfying.”
It was an eventful fall in the Huynh household. Michael’s wife, Thao Nguyen, opened Baoguette, a Vietnamese sandwich spot in a neighborhood where Vietnamese sandwiches are scarce. “It’s a very, very good little banh mi place,” adamclyde reports, “particularly for where it is in the city.”
The basic pork sandwich comprises pulled pork, terrine, and pâté on superior bread, “a fresh, nicely browned torpedo of a baguette with a good crackly crust,” adamclyde writes. heWho recommends the barbecued chicken sandwich, loaded with flavorful chicken plus a smear of pâté, balanced by just the right amount of vegetable and an agreeably funky shot of fish sauce. He faults only the spice level—too tame. There’s also a very good green papaya salad with tiger shrimp, mint, peanut, and lime dressing, says LloydG.
Overall, hounds say, Baoguette may not be the equal of board favorite Saigon Banh Mi in Chinatown, but it’s a big improvement over neighborhood options like Bao Noodles and Boi to Go.
Bar Bao [Upper West Side]
100 West 82nd Street (near Columbus Avenue), Manhattan
61 Lexington Avenue (between E. 25th and 26th streets), Manhattan