Baohaus. 238 E 14th St. NYC

Eddie Hoang, hiphop enthusiast and writer of the memoir Fresh Off the Boat, source of the popular sitcom, came up with this Taiwanese steamed bun eatery to make his name a few years ago. It’s still doing brisk business, and the food is reliably tasty, though portions are small. The Chairman Bao® ($4.05), filled with braised all natural Berkshire pork belly served with ‘Haus Relish’, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and cilantro is a winner, but the Fried Fish Bao with Tartar Sauce, lemon cabbage slaw and fried garlic is also worth a look. Service is friendly, beats are pumping, and the tables and walls are tagged, stickered and radiating East Village grime. Surprisingly, the premises has no license to serve beer, which would be the perfect accompaniment, but might encourage hanging around a tiny spot that just can’t cater to casual drinkers. Imported Asian sodas, Stumptown coffee and taro fries are available. I’ll definitely be trying the Birdhaus (24-hr brined chicken) and Coffin Bao next time, even though the food is about 30% more expensive than it should be.

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Subway: 3 Ave (L)

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Eleven B. 174 Avenue B. NYC 

Friendly neighborhood Italian eateries are getting thin on the ground in parts of Manhattan, but this one looks like it’s here to stay for many more years. Portions are generous and pizza bases are hearty, toppings even more so, though extra toppings on the biggest of the three sizes ($12, $15 and $18) are dear at $4 each. The eggplant parm was a real winner, baked to firm perfection. The Chicken Piccata ($18) with its rich lemon sauce and capers was intensely delicious. 

A couple of decent bottles of Pinot Noir were had and service was attentive. However this place has to come with a warning: it is one of the noisiest spaces delusionaryculinary has ever eaten in, with loud raucous groups of twentysomethings barking and braying all around. Not exactly the place for a quiet Friday night then. 

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Subway: 1st Ave. (L)