Eddie Huang is the Jay-Z of the NYC restaurant scene—and not because the former lawyer has crazy flow or dates smoking-hot pop stars (though, we know he's up for the task). Huang is chef-owner of the wildly popular LES pork bun shop Baohaus, which he founded after a career in fashion and serving as the unofficial Four Loko brand ambassador in NYC. There's a book deal and TV pilot in the works too. But even as the chef admits that cooking is "only about a third" of his career, we're convinced his culinary chops are as sharp as ever. We reviewed Huang's flameout Xiao Ye, noting some big ideas shining through a just-OK meal. Well, those big ideas are starting to crystalize at the very right moment.
With a new location opening on a vibrant stretch of 14th Street—after months of testing dishes through an ambitious Monday TV Dinner program—we're convinced that Huang's moment to shine is now.
During our conversation, he hinted that the menu will feature eight buns as well as composed dishes like minced pork stew and a pounded fried chicken patty styled like a hash brown. Whoa. (Read on, but be warned, gentle readers: The man has a mouth on him!)
You've got, what is it, eight new menu items at the new spot?
We've got all kinds of stuff so it'll be fun.
This broccoli tempura sandwich looks nice...
My buddy [chef-owner of No. 7] Tyler Kord loves broccoli and so I eat his fried broccoli a lot. Honestly, we fuck around in the kitchen, and one of the things that he showed me was his tempura broccoli. Mine will have a Beijing zha jiang flavor. It's similar to the bean paste noodle sauce that we had at Xiao Ye.
What's the main difference between your LES and East Village locations?
The East Village one is a complete concept. The original Baohaus has really dope but most people couldn't have complete meals. It was more like a grab-and-go, like a slice shop. But now we have so many baos on the menu that you can't get bored.
And you have gas now.
And we have a great fucking bathroom, too! And I have gas and a real deep fryer. At Baohaus everything we've been testing over there, it's been coming out good but the level of heat we can get is like home-style cooking. With this extra level of heat, I mean, I just think that people are going to be impressed with this
How did your Monday night dinners help you with the new opening? It was like a laboratory situation there...
We used those Monday nights to test what people like and we plan to seasonally rotate specials through like the cold kimchi noodles and Taiwanese minced pork stew on rice and fried chicken.
Oh no, fried chicken! I mean, oh yes fried chicken!
We're doing these giant Taiwanese-style friend chicken patties, which I usually just make for friends. We pounded out chicken breast and serve them like a giant chicken hash brown. You can walk down the street and eat ‘em.
So there's no bread in this scenario, you just...
It's just a big piece of fried chicken
Let's talk about your location on 14th Street. That's a wild stretch in the East Village.
There's quite a scene. Some days it's a bunch of NYU kids, some days there some illicit shit going on that block. It's a party
What is your Great Wall of China Men mural all about?
Oh, this thing is awesome, we teamed up with Wieden + Kennedy Attack. I had the idea to do a Great Wall of China Men and I picked out the guys, and then we decided on a style. We used the Romance of a Three Kingdoms style and drew all of these pop-cultural Asian icons in a long Chinese landscape painting.
Photo by Gabi Porter