If you are anything like most of my Manhattan friends and you’ve been trying to put yourself on a budget for ’09, then you should definitely check out Bao on 23rd and 2nd Ave.
The food is awesome and very reasonably priced, and the ambience is pretty great too. My friend Lisa and I went this week for dinner. As it was pretty busy (prime time seems to be between 8 and 10 pm) we decided to sit at the bar.
They offer a lot of specialty cocktails (saketinis etc), and their main bartender, Ash, is one of the best in Manhattan. If nothing on the menu catches your eye, he’ll create something for you on the spot. He makes a killer Lychee martini, $9.00, which Lisa and I both ordered.
For appetizers, we split the Taro Fries ($5.95) which come with a side of spicy sauce and Asian mayonnaise. I usually avoid fries at any cost but because they’re made of Taro root and cooked in a wok as opposed to being fried, they are actually not too bad for you. After that we moved on to the Sweet and Sour Chicken Soup (made with tomatoes, shrimp, pinapple, ochra, bean sprouts and herbs in a spicy seafood broth – $5.95), and shared the Jicama Spring Rolls (made with steamed jicama, lettuce, Chinese sausage, dried shrimp basil and hoisin sauce.) Nearly full at this point, we actually decided to forego a main course in place of dessert … very naughty! We had the banana pudding (bananas, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and strawberries- $6.95) it was SO delicious.
I would absolutely suggest Bao for a casual dinner with friends. The food is awesome and inexpensive and the service is great. My only recommendation would be to make sure to head in before the rush dinner crowd if you want a guaranteed table. However the service at the bar was incredible and if I went back I’d definitely want to try some more of the Mr. Ash’s custom cocktails.
Rebecca tastes the banana pudding.
Tasty spring rolls from Bao.