I was recently introduced to Taiwanese cuisine. One day, by mistake, I tried a sandwich called Bao, brought to me from the Lower East Side. ...


I was recently introduced to Taiwanese cuisine. One day, by mistake, I tried a sandwich called Bao, brought to me from the Lower East Side. It was a little fist-sized sandwich, stuffed with some sort of beef, and red spice and cilantro. As I chewed down on the steam bun, I felt something move, in a good way. I needed more, fast!

BaoHaus is located on Rivington Street, on the Lower East Side. I was already going to be in the area to watch the movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” so this was a perfect chance to catch the flick and check out what Baohaus has to offer. I called up my knowledgeable Taiwanese friend and asked her to join me in my expedition.

I was hungry and, once again, found myself walking in the wrong direction on Rivington. What made it even worse was my friend thought it would be funny to stop in Babeland, an adult female toy store. Now, as much as I would love to watch a cute Asian girl shop for sex toys, I was way too hungry to even be excited. Besides, I wasn’t about to go in there for two reasons: 1 - because I’d look like I was the boyfriend who was not doing his job right, so adult toys were needed and/or, 2 - I’d look like the gay friend. There is nothing wrong with being gay but I don’t want to be labeled under either category. So I lied to her and said we'll stop in on the way back.

We finally made it to BaoHaus, identified by a large sign lit in blue and white. We had to take a few steps down into the place; a positive sign. Anything underground has to be good. Inside, BaoHaus was decked out in blue and white, with some old pictures of what I’m guessing was the owner’s family (or some random pictures he bought on eBay) adorning the wall. A few bar stools and tables, which were attached to the wall, were quaintly set-up. There were separate counters for placing your order and picking up the food.

The menu was pretty entertaining, with items named after sitcom and movie icons from the 90's, like the Uncle Jesse (Full House) and the King Jaffe Joffre (Coming to America, my all-time favorite comedy.) We were pretty stumped as to what to order, but the girl at the counter was friendly and explained the menu to us like we were from Ohio. She recommended the Straight Frush, any 3 Baos and a soda. So we got a hanger steak Bao, a pork belly Bao and an Uncle Jesse Bao with a sasparilla, which is a Taiwanese root beer. I was thinking of getting the Bao fries, but for some reason, I passed them up.

While we waited for our food, Pharrell’s song, “Everybody Nose,” was blasting from an iPod dock nearby. As I started singing in my head, and before I could get past “a hundred dollar bill look at you!” our food was ready. I already tried the hanger steak so I tricked my friend into having it first, while I reached for the pork belly. A good move on my part, because it was unreal; perfectly cooked, tender and juicy. All the flavors came out, and the peanuts, red sugar and cilantro were a great mix. I’m not a fan of tofu, and I left my skinny jeans at home that night, but I figured I’d try it and I’m glad I did. Cilantro and the haus sauce were a good mix. I just couldn’t put my finger on their sauce. It tasted like a sweet chili sauce, but what do I know; I’m just a Russian Jew from Brooklyn. I took a sip of the sasparilla and it tasted more like bubble gum than root beer. Indeed, it was bubbly and refreshing, and I could probably drink about 12 glasses of it in 20 minutes.

The bill was about $20 for 4 sandwiches and a soda. After such a great experience, I added Taiwanese food to my list of things to eat. If you’re in the area, stop by this place and grab a few sandwiches. I recently read the boiled peanuts were brought back. I haven’t tried them yet but anything peanut is good!