Friday, September 30, 2011

Chairman Bao Creator Movin' On Uptown

Original Baohaus Location on Rivington Street
Well, not too far uptown.  New York restaurateur, gonzo blogger and Four Loko aficionado Eddie Huang revealed today that he would be closing his original Baohaus location at 137 Rivington Street and moving operations about a mile uptown to 238 East 14th Street where a second Baohaus location has just undergone a successful shakedown period.  The original Baohaus grabbed New York by the, er, buns in late 2009 when Eddie un-David-Chang-ed the post-modern pork bun and turned it towards its Taiwanese gua bao roots.  He created the “Chairman Bao” with Berkshire pork belly braised in soy sauce and cherry cola and served with crushed peanuts, cilantro, Taiwanese red sugar and house relish.  His creations earned him the “Best Bun” accolade in the New York Magazine’s Best of New York issue.

The Chairman Bao
Eddie’s “Chairman Bao” also became the subject of a yet-to-be-resolved bicoastal tiff when a group of chain restaurant veterans on the West coast decided, a few months later, to get into the food truck business and seized on the name “Chairman Bao” for one of their trucks as a clever hook to hang some hype on.  Eddie Huang’s howls of outrage could be heard all the way to the Pacific, and another Bay Area food truck subsequently offered to host a “bao-off” between the Chairman Bao creator and the Chairman Bao truck operators.  This never occurred because, according to my sources, the truck peple would have none of it.

Eddie Huang and Gary Soup, May 2010
Baohaus' original subterranean digs, seen at the top of this post, were welcoming and cozy, but ultimately too small for Eddie Huang’s personality and his army of admirers.  For a time, he tried to simultaneously run a more ambitious eatery, Xiao Ye, but eventually threw in the towel when both Sam Sifton and his own mother pointedly suggested that he might not be as long on attention span as he is on talent.  His newest incarnation of Baohaus appears to be more ambitious than Baohaus 1.0 but still oriented toward xiao chi, or small eats. (You can read that as “drunk food” if you like but I suspect it will be s few notches above that.)  Closing the original location will allow Eddie and brother Evan to devote full time to Baohaus 2.0. I, for one, am eagerly looking forward to checking it out on my next trip to NY around Thanksgiving.

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