Interview with Baohaus’ Eddie Huang
Fresh Baos Rocking the Culinary Boat
Asian Fusion recently visited Eddie Huang’s critically acclaimed restaurant Baohaus, the Taiwanese street food that’s been ruling the New York City culinary scene since December 2009. The dish to order is the Chairman Bao, which has been winning the hearts of hardened NYC foodies.
Once situated on the Lower East Side, the Baohaus is now located at 238 East 14th Street in the East Village. Its Taiwanese street food inspired dishes impressed even the venerable ex-chef and supreme foodie Anthony Bourdain himself. And the good news is, you won’t have to break your piggy bank to eat there.
When Eddie Huang started the Baohaus, his vision was to create a community based, hip, and smartly packaged restaurant that would attract the young and the creative, and he has accomplished that goal tenfold. Looking around the restaurant, we see students, young professionals, foodies and hipsters. Not only do they come here for the food, they come here for the atmosphere, and the East meets West Asian cultural ambience.
“Yum.” the person right next to me took a bite into the Chairman’s hot, fluffy steamed buns, penetrating right to the juicy, translucent Berkshire pork belly within, with added flavors from cilantro and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts to tingle his taste buds.
In Eddie Huang’s Baohaus, food is sexy, adventurous, and indulgent. Don’t believe us? Just give the Chairman Bao a try, put your hands on the bouncy surface of its incandescent bun and close your eyes. Feel the heat radiating from it, imagining the forbidden flavors within and what it would taste like. Take a good sniff and let yourself be seduced by the aromas of cilantro and cooked pork. Then take a bite, just a small bite, and savor the amazing taste and texture of pillowy steamed buns, soft, succulent, melt-in-your-mouth pork belly meat, and the crunchiness of crushed peanuts, all cooked in perfect harmony, all delicious.
Eddie’s dishes engage all your senses and this Taiwanese street food will take you for a wild ride you won‘t soon forget. Some of the thrills you can experience include taro fries topped with Haus sauce, the classic Taiwanese minced pork stew, fried baos served with condensed milk glazes, and of course, the legendary gua baos stuffed with pork or Taiwanese style fried chicken.
“Tastes just like the ones back home!” a Taiwanese customer exclaimed in Mandarin after she had Chairman Bao. Another customer who had apparently never taken a bite of Taiwanese food, timidly brought a spoonful into his mouth. “Never had anything like this before, definitely unique, love the texture.” he nodded and said to me. It was a totally new food experience for him.
This is what authenticity is all about. I think it is a feeling of home to the natives, and a sense of adventure to the foreigners. If that’s what you are looking for in ethnic cuisines, than Eddie’s Baohaus will definitely satisfy you, just be sure to bring a thank-you note to Eddie if you do stop by the Baohaus, he’s just saved you a plane ride to Taiwan.
What’s more impressive than the fantastic food of Baohaus, however, is perhaps the eclectic owner Eddie Huang himself. “Eddie Huang is bigger than food.” said the well-known foodie Anthony Bourdain, and he was right.
Lawyer, comedian, clothing designer, TV-host, hip-hop enthusiast, restaurateur, author, and an unlikely cultural ambassador, the multi-talented Eddie Huang refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer when it comes to his ambitions. He started his own business before he even turned thirty.
This was how Eddie spoke of himself in his newly penned autobiography, Fresh Off the Boat – “A Taiwanese kid that makes the best gua bao in New York just like it should be.” Eddie is a force of nature, fearless, and unafraid to hustle with the best. Fiercely proud of his identity and heritage, Eddie Huang strives to broaden the appeal of Taiwanese cuisine, and to increase the awareness of Asian-American culture in general. “My main objective with Baohaus was to become a voice for Asian-Americans,” Eddie Huang said.
In the United States, some Asian-Americans whisper; but Eddie would be the one who holds the megaphone up high and shouts, and the Baohaus is his soap box.