After reading about The Bao Shoppe on a round of Astoria sites (We Heart Astoria and Tastoria to name a few), I ventured over to the new Steinway spot this past Wednesday. The quick, casual restaurant serves “baos inspired by Asian and American flavors.” In other words, it specializes in a boa (a delicate, airy puff of a steamed bun) stuffed with fillings such as tender pork belly and pickled onions.
Baalok and I headed over for a late dinner when the crowds had cleared. So we were fortunate enough to have the owner’s full attention. He was immediately welcoming and even had the courtesy to take us through the entire menu. We settled on the Smokey Pig (stuffed with pulled pork), O.G. (braised pork belly) and the Colonel Bao (fried chicken) and Shoppe Fries.
I was a bit hesitant about the Shoppe Fries. The Asian twist features a generous portion of french fries topped with kimchi, spicy mayo, BBQ sauce and daikon. My naive doubt immediately drifted away after one bite. The sandwiches were equally delicious. The Colonel Bao with juicy fried chicken topped with pickled slaw and spicy mayo was my favorite.
The Bao Shoppe also serves a bevy of bubble teas and other iced tea variations. The vegetarian options are somewhat limited. However, according to their Facebook page, they’re experimenting with more vegetarian combos. So stay tuned. There’s also a small gallery of local artwork in the back. It’s always nice to see some creative, community support!
Anyways, it’s good, really good. So just go, please. Now.
Side note: Truthfully, I never had the pleasure of tasting a bao sandwich until moving to New York. For those of you who have never had a boa sandwich, read this recent article, “10 Reasons The Bao is The Best Sandwich You’ve Never Tried.” Specifically, The Bao Shoppe serves gua boa; the bun is sliced half open resembling a taco-like slider. This variation comes from Taiwan.