Flatiron Lunch: Bao Noodles’ Lunch Special is a Decent Deal
I don’t often find myself east of the Midtown Lunch boundaries, but a few months ago, I got invited to a dinner at Bao Noodles on Second Avenue. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with the Bao empire. For all the tasty food they come up with, the random openings, closings and rearranging starts to get annoying. Maybe I’m still sore about Baorrito swapping for Mikey’s Burger without any notice.
Anyway, I learned two things that night: first, Michael ‘Bao’ Hyunh hasn’t been a part of the restaurant for years, so it’s not likely to change format next week. Second, they offer a $10 lunch special that pairs a soup or a sandwich with a reduced size starter. The dinner that night was definitely tasty enough to warrant a return, and the price for the lunch special seemed right, so I headed back last week to see what it was all about.
My friend’s starter, a shrimp and papaya salad looked pretty good, if not especially overflowing with shrimp.
I had a summer roll. The reduced size is more noticeable when you get a single, split roll. It tasted good, but I really wanted another.
For our mains, we tried the pork sandwich, not a banh mi, but a cut up pork chop packed into a baguette with cilantro, lettuce and tomatoes. My buddy wasn’t so into all the cartilage, but was pretty happy with the chops, because really, who wouldn’t be?
I got the shrimp sandwich, which was really great, but way too light on the shrimp. Each half had maybe four shrimp in it. That was disappointing.
Overall, I love the idea of a paired special and the food is very good, but there’s not so much of a deal to the special when compared to the closest lunch competitor which, ironically, is Baoguette (on 25th & Lex).
The weather has been far too hot for me to consider a bowl of pho, so I want to return just to see if the serving size is more general there. Separate from the special, there are a number of other dishes available but those will have to be on my to-eat list for future visits.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Good Vietnamese food is still not easy to come by north of Houston.
- I like getting a starter, even a small one, at lunch.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Even with a starter, $10 is only an okay deal.
- They’re stingy with the shrimp.
Bao Noodles, 391 2nd Ave, 212-725-7770