Dear Food Diary:
It’s not very festive to dine alone on Chinese New Year’s Eve (Feb 13th), so I gathered my so called “orphan” friends for a special home cooked meal at Baohaus.
5 courses prix fixe for $38. Here’s owner, chef and creator of Baohaus, Eddie. His mama was actually helping and left a little before the first dinner service. There’s no open fire stove, just electric ones. I guess I should quit complaining about my tiny kitchen.
Our table setting was quite nice, with name tags and all.
Old Beijing Vinegar Peanuts (on the table at all times). While the peanuts were swimming in Chingkiang black rice vinegar, they managed to maintain their crunch. I never had sour peanuts, these were interesting and familiar, I usually use chinkiang vinegar for my dumpling sauces. LuYuan is actually from Beijing, but couldn’t recall ever having these, so I’m guessing they’re real old school.
3 Cups Fried Fish Bao. I still have Baohaus on my infinite list of places to try and if this is any indication of their regular Bao menu, I predict a winner, specially if you throw pork belly in between. The bao is soft, light and fluffy with a hint of sweetness, just the way I like it. The flaky fish is lightly coated and deep fried, a bit oily, but crunchy and tasty with with the 3 cup sauce (soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil).
Beer Braised Sichuan Pepper and Fennel Beef Dumplings. 4 portions arrived nice and presentable, but…
mine arrived a la Apple logo style…
It was a busy night and none of this is on their regular menu. The service was friendly and accommodating (though a tad chaotic at times) so I let it slide.
The description suggested a really strong flavored filling. I was expecting a punch from the Sichuan peppercorn, but everything was very mild. Savory juicy beef, with a slight presence of beer in the background. If the flavors screamed out a little more, it would of been pretty good. Maybe while boiling them in water, some of the flavors got lost.
Fried Fresh Tofu Bricks from Chinatown’s Tofu Guy.Fried exterior with melt in your mouth interior. I love tofu prepared this way. The garlic chili and cilantro sauce was a bit sweet for my taste, specially with the crunchy sweet topping, so I ate around it.
Taiwanese Fried Chicken and Eddie’s Dumb Good Taiwanese Sausage Fried Rice. Because there wasn’t an open fire kitchen, the fried rice lacked the kissed by fired sort of flavor only restaurants can deliver. This was more of a classic home cooked fried rice dish with sweet Chinese sausage. The Taiwanese fried chicken was crunchy and moist, covered with spices, and ended every bite with a spicy kick. This is the kind of Taiwanese style fried chicken I’ve fallen in love with. My only complain is the small portion, I could of eaten a whole plate.
Clear Broth Lions Head Casserole (Pork Meatballs). It was nice to end the meal with a light clear broth filled with soft napa cabbage. The pork meatballs had vermicelli in it instead of floating in the soup, added new kind of texture to the meatballs. I was deceived by the orange specks, at first glance I joyfully identified them as crab roe, which turned out to be carrot. They added sweetness to complete the dish.
Fried Mantou Bread Pudding with Maotai Sauce was the most creative and by far my favorite. The mantou pudding was soft, sticky, thick and had a nice bite and texture to it. Just the right consistency, not too chewy nor mushy. I loved the maotai sauce, it preserved maotai’s unique flavors while adding the perfect amount of sweetness. Too bad this isn’t on their regular menu, it has my vote for sure.
Here we are, all the way from San Francisco, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Argentina. Far a way from our families, but close to our dreams, friends, and everything NYC has to offer. It was a nice way to start off the Chinese New Year Celebrations. Afterwards, we went to Julliard for an amazing Violin Concert and ended the night at Empire Lounge to celebrate my friend’s birthday.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING:
This applies to the prix fixe dinner, will have to try their regular menu and report back, I can’t wait.
137 Rivington St