I had passed it a bunch of times, but it wasn’t until I read a short write-up by Kenji at Serious Eats that I decided to check out BaoBQ on 1st between 13th and 14th. It’s run by the same guy who does Baogette. I’ve tried two of the house specialties so far- the “ga nuong- grilled spicy Vietnamese style chicken” and the “xuong nuong- grilled Vietnamese thin sliced pork chop”. I loved both.
The chicken was marinated in a slightly sweet, slightly tangy fish sauce and the meat was juicy and flavorful. Not particularly spicy. The fantastically charred skin was the real star. Smokey and sticky. It peels right off and I ended up pulling off meat from the bones and making little wraps out of the skin. I had this twice. Enjoyed it both times. They will ask if you want light or dark meat.
The deep, dark marinated pork chop was a nice balance of sweet, savory, and bit of spicy. But the nice smokey char really made the flavor difference. It reminded me of a thicker, more succulent version of the Malaysian jerky you can get downtown or, actually, when I had a similar dish a long time ago in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Thumbs up.
The sides I’ve tried so far I was less enamored with. The green mango salad smoked beef jerky, basil, spicy dressing was actually long, fresh, bright orange fruity strips of sweet ripe mango and some of the bits of roast pork (they were out of beef jerky) in an unremarkable brown sauce. Uh, not what I was expecting here. The Thai som tam salad side was whatever and the cucumber relish wasn’t particularly special either. I also tried their BBQ chicken wings which are pretty much similar to Pok Pok’s fish sauce, palm sugar, sticky Vietnamese type of recipe. Each wing had some house made hot sauce squeezed on as well. These were fine, but are not destination worthy in the way the chicken and the pork mains were. There ARE a few other items on the menu that do look appealing that I'd like to try such as the charred cuttle fish, smoked pork spare rib bulgogi, and a pan fried radish cake.
A whole chicken is $12 and a half pound of the pork chop is $7. Twenty bucks could go a long way here. Happy to have it here and hope it lasts. I love the EV little triumvirate of Xi’an FF, Zabb Elee, and now BaoBQ all hit my sweet spot in terms of food interests these days.
229 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003