I've recently visited some places in the East Village since my best friend moved there and have been pleasantly surprised, so I thought I'd share with you all.
I went to Bao111 on Avenue C on a chilly Sunday night to enjoy some Asian fusion food and live jazz. My friend was running late, but I was welcomed to sit at the bar and have a cocktail. The Saigon Dragon (mango rum, mango puree, and fresh ginger pulp) was excellent - very smooth and yes, it's a bit of a girlie drink. I liked the decor - not as gaudy as Tao or Ruby Foo's and the small space didn't feel cramped even as the place started to fill up. Very cozy and had romantic potential - might consider bringing the hubby here. The service was attentive and accommodating.
I had a second cocktail called Perfume River (strawberry puree, strawberry vodka, and guava) - much more potent but also very good. For starter, I had the crispy frog legs with basil mayonnaise and my friend (who is a sharer, thank goodness!) had the shrimp summer rolls. The frog legs were excellent (wish it was a bigger portion as I am a fan of froglegs) and the sauce addictive. The shrimp rolls were classic - nothing really special about them.
For entree, I had the roasted duck breast with water spinach (kangkung) and shitake mushrooms. The meat was very tender, but I wished the skin had been crispier and less fatty. My friend had the fish curry which was flavorful and perfect for the cold night.
Dessert was excellent - I had the warm pumpkin bread pudding with cranberry compote. It was supposed to come with homemade cinnamon ice cream, but they were out, so they offered me two scoops of flavors of my choice. I chose the black tea rose ice cream and the jasmine ice cream - excellent. I would order these ice creams again in a heartbeat. My friend had the goat cheesecake (very pungent) with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream. I think I liked mine better. As it was my birthday, the waiter brought us complimentary glasses of Tokaji. Total bill for 2 was $120 including tax and tip.
I enjoyed my experience here - I think it is best to come when it's not crowded. They will take reservations.