BaoBQ grills meats Southeast Asian style, and they're the smart orders here. Silverjay says the signature ga nuong (Vietnamese-style grilled chicken)—prepped in a fish sauce marinade with sweet, tangy undertones—comes out juicy and flavorful. Billed as spicy, it really isn't, but it has its rewards: What's outside is just as good as what's inside. "The fantastically charred skin was the real star," Silverjay says, adding a tip on how to eat it: "I ended up pulling off meat from the bones and making little wraps out of the skin."
Another house specialty is xuong nuong (Vietnamese-style grilled pork chops). Reminiscent of Malaysian-style jerky, Silverjay says, it deftly balances sweet, savory, and spicy notes. But again, the grill does much of the work: "the nice smoky char really made the flavor difference." Side dishes—green mango salad, papaya salad—are skippable, Silverjay adds. Ricky, however, really likes the charred long beans.
BaoBQ, open since December, is the latest eatery from empire-builder Michael "Bao" Huynh, whose other restaurants have included the Baoguette minichain as well as the now-defunct Baorrito, Baotique, and Bao 111. This one sounds like a keeper. "Happy to have it here and hope it lasts," says Silverjay.
BaoBQ [East Village]
229 First Avenue (between E. 13th and 14th streets), Manhattan