Archive for 'O Bao'

Obao Packs a Punch and I Am Still an Idiot

You know those beautiful moments when it suddenly dawns on you that you are 5’8 and walk very quickly, able to cross avenues in mere minutes to those short people who take 20 minutes to walk from 5th to 2nd Avenue? No? Well, whatever, my office sits smack in the middle – not quite west, and not really east either – of midtown. Low 50s and Madison, to be exact – and when I finally figured out that I can walk to Obao in approximately 8 minutes, I hurried over to get my pho on. Pho, on a snowy day – of which we had way too many the past 6 weeks – is amazing. Michelin recommended pho isn’t really something that even crosses my radar normally, so this was even more exciting!

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OBAO Is Open On 9th Ave With $8 Lunch Specials

Considering the number of times I’ve been to Schmackary’s lately, I’m not sure how I missed that OBAO opened a third location this summer on 45th and 9th. The new spot is offering $8 set lunches, a deal I hadn’t noticed at their other locations. Given the number of 9th avenue Thai restaurants, many of which are a within a couple of blocks, the deal makes sense in order to be competitive in the area. OBAO’s three locations each offer different specials at lunchtime, and at their other Midtown spot on the east side, OBAO will give you a free starter with the purchase of an entree. Since a main dish at lunchtime can run you north of the traditional ML budget, $8 seems like a pretty good deal.

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Get 50% Off OBAO: Ever since Obao opened 2 1/2 years ago on 53rd btw. 2+3rd we've always been fans.  Anna was a fan of their beef salad, and Rachel liked their Pho Bo, and now you can get either for half price by heading to our deals page: Get $30 worth of food from Obao for just $15.  The downsides?  The deal is only good after 2pm on weekdays, but can be used all weekend long.

OBAO’s Pho Bo Is Michelin Recommended For Good Reason

I was surprised and kind of disappointed the other day when I went to OBAO intending to order their delicious pad see iew with kalbi, only to find that their menu had changed from the last time I was there. If I had to guess, I’d say my last trip was about six months ago, so I’m unsure when the updated menu made its appearance, but the beef pad see iew on the new menu no longer has any mention of the short rib. Major bummer. But, the good news for Midtown Lunch’ers is that there are still plenty of items $10 and under on the lunch specials menu, and if you dine-in, you get a free, chef-selected starter with your entree.

Anyway, while selecting a new dish, I noticed the four Michelin recommended items (fancy!), one of which was the beef salad Anna enjoyed so much in December. I ordered the recommended Pho Bo.

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Obao’s Beef Salad Is My Kind of Salad

Obao, Midtown East’s branch of Michael Huynh’s Bao empire, has had its share of both cheerleaders and detractors on this site. With the majority of the menu items clocking in at $10 and over, the restaurant is firmly in “high-end to splurge” territory for Midtown Lunch’ers. However, there was an item that caught my eye one day recently when I was looking for a lighter, healthy-ish lunch: Obao’s Beef Salad.

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OBAO’s Bun Bo Hue Looks A Little More Like Bun Bo Hue

The original Bun Bo Hue being served at OBAO

We never really got to the bottom of the whole bun bo hue thing at OBAO (on 53rd btw. 2+3rd). Sure they offered free spring rolls for awhile to anybody who would return and try the soup, but they never quite explained what happened. Were they serving pho by accident? Or were they just serving a terrible version? (Disclaimer: It tasted great to me, it just bore no resemblance to bun bo hue.) Who knows, and we probably never will… but according to this report from Lunch’er “Monstermooch” there is one thing that is certain, they are serving a different soup than the one I was served on opening week.

“Not sure if u ever went back to check out the bun bo hue after hyunh said he revamped it, but see the attached for a picture of what I got when I got it delivered yesterday. Definitely not pho, definitely signs of pig’s feet and beef shin, and slightly spicy lemongrassy taste. Can’t vouch for authenticity, but I can vouch that it’s different from their pho!”

Check out her photo after the jump…

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Free Lemongrass Short Ribs Alert: As a Christmas gift to lunchers, OBAO (on 53rd btw. 2+3rd) will be giving away "free lemongrass short rib skewers with purchase of any lunch entrée for the remainder of 2009 (eat-in only)." The deal starts today.

OBAO Offers Free Spring Rolls With Every Bun Bo Hue

Got this note from the folks at OBAO (on 53rd btw. 2+3rd) yesterday regarding the whole Bun Bo Hue confusion from two weeks ago:  “As there’s been much discussion regarding the authenticity of OBAO’s Bun Bo Hue, Michael Huynh would like to try and set the record straight. He’s inviting people to come back and try the soup again now that he and his kitchen staff have gotten things working more smoothly. And as an added bonus, everyone who comes in and orders the Bun Bo Hue will get a free order of spring rolls.“  It doesn’t really clarify if they were accidentally serving the pho in place of the bun bo hue, but who cares?  Free spring rolls!  I’m there… (Offer good through 12/16/09)

Does OBAO Have a Bun Bo Hue Controversy on Their Hands?
A Very Early Look at OBAO’s Lunch

Does OBAO Have a Bun Bo Hue Controversy on Their Hands?

Brand new restaurants will always have their opening hiccups, but there seems to be a bit of confusion surrounding a particular dish being served at OBAO, Michael Hyunh’s new pan-Asian restaurant on 53rd btw. 2+3rd.  Yesterday, I posted about my first lunch at OBAO and mentioned that I ordered the Bun Bo Hue, a spicy lemongrass flavored Vietnamese soup, that usually comes with all sorts of offal bits and pieces in it (and should have a red oily sheen.)  At OBAO, the soup comes advertised as such on the menu, but what I was served seemed to more closely match their pho (as it was described on the menu.)  I assumed they had just served me the wrong soup, until I read a review of the same soup on Peter Cherches’ blog.  He ordered the Bun Bo Hue as well, and was served the exact same soup I got… but with one difference.  He actually questioned the staff about it, and was assured it was the Bun Bo Hue and not the pho.

To further confuse the matter the soup comes with a hot chili paste, and other accoutrement that when added to the pho’ish dish make it more like a Bun Bo Hue (but not so much so that it settles the matter.)  So, was this the case of a deconstructed Bun Bo Hue, or a staff that is just suffering from some major Vietnamese soup confusion.  We weren’t the only ones who have tried the soup in the past week, and comments from other Midtown Lunch’ers have attempted to solve the riddle.

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A Very Early Look at OBAO’s Lunch


It never quite reached a MomoMidtown fever pitch, but the opening of Michael Huynh’s OBAO (on 53rd btw. 2+3rd) last week was met with a bit of excitement.  And why not?  Midtown is not exactly a hotbed of great Vietnamese food- and even though nothing Chef Hyunh does is straight forward, his twisted Vietnamese/Pan Asian sit down restaurant is bound to be better than the options we have now.  There were a couple of pre-opening reports that sounded positive, but you can’t be truly sure about a place until a restaurant is open and has paying customers.  They opened for dinner a week ago, and Friday was their very first lunch service.

I don’t think it’s fair to be critical of a place based on a meal you had during the 2 busiest hours of their opening week.  And not everything we ate was perfect, but there was enough there for me to know this is a place I’ll want to go back to. What we tried is after the jump…

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