Sometimes I wonder if Google knows too much about me. For example, when I go to google and type, "chairman", the first suggestion is "Chairman Mao" For those of you who don't know, Chairman Mao is the person who turned China into a communist country. An opportunistic little fuck he was... and he's mostly the reason why people who live in Taiwan today are living there now. I bring this up because I went to Baohaus recently and I hate communists. And they renamed the 'gua bao' as the 'Chairman Bao'. Get it? Name play here. So a Taiwanese food item that sometimes is coined as the name 'Taiwanese Burger' is now named for a guy who enabled the people's revolution, and whose legacy helped tank down Democracy activists in Tienamen Square. Yea... All that said, I love Baohaus and I really hope everyone tries their stuff. So let's get to the rest of this post...
Before going any further, gotta shout out to the Blackhawks for taking home the Stanley Cup. I'm not a hockey fan by any means, don't even know the rules... but it's great to see them win the cup for the first time since '61. Anyway so I brought up the Chairman Bao stuff because the owner of Baohaus was commenting on a truck in SF that's trying to rip him off. There's a truck on the other coast trying to go by the name of Chairman Bao Truck (hereforth referred to as the Ripoff Truck). That's pretty lame if you ask me.
So somewhere I read the owner of Baohaus (Eddie Huang) was saying that the Ripoff Truck had this clashing design on the truck with a panda dressed as Chairman Mao and then the background is Japanese sun rays (see sun rays and the truck). I thought Eddie made a great point there, so when I thought more about his famous bao and its famous name... it got me thinking about how it's a slight contradiction as well. It's not Alanis Morrisette ironic, but it is sorta.
About the food! Baohaus is located on Rivington St in the Lower East Side, and they can be easy to miss if you're not looking carefully. The restaurant is kind of on that level that's half above ground and half below. If you walk around in New York, you know what I mean. The main things on the menu are gua baos. They got one called Haus Bao that's made with hanger steak. And the Chairman Bao is made with all natural Berkshire pork belly. Let me tell you, this is good stuff.
I'm not sure that traditionally it's a big deal to source high quality meat in Taiwanese cooking. Who knows, even though I spent my childhood in Taiwan, my fatass was too busy eating to know from where the pigs came. Just put it in my mouth was my motto... but tasting Taiwanese food that's made with better ingredients and tasting it in Manhattan... just never thought it was possible.
Eddie Huang is opening another restaurant called Xiao Ye and that looks to be interesting as well. You could follow the progress along on his blog at: http://thepopchef.blogspot.com/. From his blog, it sounds like Xiao Ye is going to be progressive Taiwanese food made for the masses. I mean, we can't all just push oyster omelets and stinky tofu on the rest of the world. There's more to a cuisine than the individual dishes, and hopefully Eddie can take the flavor profiles to a new level. As a Taiwanese American, I'm pretty excited. You should also get excited, and get yourself down to Baohaus, even if they got a bao named after a motherfucker like Mao.
238 E 14th st.
New York, NY 10003
(I invite you to follow me on Twitter so you can get more updates.)