Pork and Chinese is synonymous. Anything from pork fat, pork belly, pork ribs, pig tongue, pig intestines, pig ears, pig colagen, you name it we will eat it (we refers to the collective). So when you serve a nice juicy chunk of pork belly on a steamed bun (bao), you will definitely hit it off with the Chinese. As un-chinese as I am, my tummy is very much the opposite. BUT, this post is to highlight the lesser known comrade of the pig, the chicken. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love pork, though not as much as my fellow yellow-skinned brothers and sisters, but it’s about time the chicken takes the stage, so behold the Birdhaus Bao.
Extremely juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Baohaus has succeeded in making the Birdhaus Bao consistent the many times I’ve had it so I’m sold.
The restaurant (for the lack of a better word, other than shack) is in a quiet area of LES, tucked next to a Chinese massage parlor. It’s small, it’s cosy but it serves its purpose. So go get your Bao on!
137 Rivington Street, NY 10002
Degustation is like the quiet cousin in the corner of the family picture who doesn’t say much but you know she’s extremely smart and successful. The restaurant is still going strong since its beginnings about 2+ years ago and there is no sign of it slowing down, even with only 16 seats.
We opted for the $50, 5 course tasting menu. Being a typical Asian and as with tasting menus, I was somewhat concerned that I might not be completely satisfied at the end of the meal. After the fifth course I of course had some room left for more food but I can say that the portions were pretty well thought out.
As the NYMag review mentioned, the food doesn’t taste forced or pretentious. One thing I noticed was the plates that were used looked like the ones you could get at Ikea or Walmart. The emphasis was solely on the freshness of the ingredients and the blend of their flavors. My favorite was the torija. Crispy and slightly burnt on one side and paired with a slice of grapefruit to add tang to the sweetness of the pudding. I’ve been told that this is a new version of how they used to make this dessert. Previously it was served with grapefruit foam and frozen grapefruit (see here).
Although I wished the portions were bigger, I was pretty impressed with the food. If I had been an over-achiever (and had a fatter wallet) I would’ve definitely done the 10-course instead.
Degustation Wine & Tasting Bar
239 E 5th St,
New York 10003
(Btwn Bowery & 2nd Ave)
I don’t think a name like Quality Meats is apt for a restaurant, especially one that has a life-size plaster cow head greeting you at the entrance. But once you’ve eaten here, you will realize that there is no other name that’s fit for a place that serves such perfectly cooked porterhouses.
I’m not a super meat eater, but I do appreciate a good steak when I can. And this porterhouse was definitely up my alley. You know a steakhouse is proud of their meat when they don’t add anything to it except salt.
The most important lesson I’ve learned with steakhouses is to always come in a group of 4 or more. That way you’re able to sample a larger variety of cuts without having to finish a 24oz slab on your own.
And of course, come hungry!
57th W 58th St (@ 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10019
It means Little Pig.
So it might be a turn off for non-meat consumers (if you knew what it meant), but when you’re with Danny Meyer, you will most certainly be well fed. From the likes of Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park and Shake Shack comes Maialino. The signage at the door threw me off a little as I had feared and expected a little bit more stuffiness from being set inside Gramercy Park Hotel and located next to the park with the locked gates. But the space was nothing but laid back and welcoming. Family-sized tables and long counter tops dressed the dining area.
I would say the best party size for brunch would be 4 or more. That way you would be able to sample the Cestino di Dolci (basket of pastries) and a whole host of other appetizers. The glazed croissant was truly buttery and perfectly flaky. The olive oil muffin had such a subtle taste and wasn’t overly sweet. And the Bombolinis had just the right amount of cream and powdered sugar.
The star of the day was definitely the Pancetta al Pepe Nero (thick cut black peper bacon), and unfortunately I didn’t manage to take a picture of it. I really liked the Amatriciana eggs. Good amount of spice in the tomato sauce, though I could’ve done without the parmesan, but that’s just me.
I also like how they have a bread/pastry section complete with a barista. The setup reminds me a little of Locanda Verde, but given the choice I would rather come here where it’s less crowded (or maybe it’s because we came on a Saturday instead of Sunday).
Nothing like good breakfast to cure any unwanted reactions from the night before. Next up would be to try a Maialino dinner.
Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Ave, New York NY 10010