The Bao Shoppe

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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.

bao-shoppe astoria-bao-shoppe

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.

The Bao Shoppe is located at 30-66 Steinway between 30th and 31st Avenues. Join them on Twitter or Facebook for the latest specials and sandwich selections.

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.

snowdonia

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Last Saturday night, Baalok and I ventured to Snowdonia, a cozy, trappist-style gastropub. Tucked away at the corner of 35th Avenue and 32nd Street, the neighborhood spot serves local craft beer and quality pub fare. Many of the signature dishes feature the beer selections on tap as ingredients

The atmosphere is immediately warm and inviting. Dining benches line the tables and soft industrial pendants add a nice glow. For an appetizer, we shared the Ploughman’s Plate – a plate of ricotta cheese, house-made olive tapenade, pickled onions and pork spread. I’m not sure my palette is refined enough to have appreciated the pork. However, the fresh ricotta, juicy olive spread and perfectly pickled fat slices of onions were so good. I mean seriously good. Served on lightly buttered, grilled bread, the ingredients blended into a simple delight.

Baalok ordered another delight – the last steak-frites left for the night. Like many men, he has very high standards for steak. I’ve never heard him say a steak is good. He only mutters a doubtful, “It was okay,” or grumbles about an overpriced dinner. BUT for the first time in our 3-year relationship, he said, “Wow. That steak is really, really good.” (!!!) Really, really good means he loved that 16oz rib eye. Apparently, it was absolutely cooked to perfection – juicy and tender with just the right amount of seasoning. I don’t even eat beef, but that meal looked downright mouthwatering.

On the other side of the table, I enjoyed a generous portion of mussels soaked in a beer broth. The P.E.I. mussels were equally satisfying – plump and tasty. We topped the night off with glasses of Peak Organic Fresh Cut Pilsner while “Superbad” played on the TVs above the bar (a nice change from the typical sportscast). We both left in a happy daze patting our swollen food bellies. The relaxed environment, great service and delicious food were right on point. We can’t wait to go back.

Follow the Trappist Times for Snowdonia’s food and drink specials and upcoming events. Another plus, they also serve brunch.

oliver’s astoria

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Every so often, my boyfriend (a.k.a. Baalok) and I ventured out into Astoria with no plans – no set street direction or restaurant. Slowly, these wanderings turned into our special weekend night ritual. Saturdays transformed into our time to reconnect after the long workweek through unexpected food finds. So last Saturday (nicely complementing the start of New York City Beer Week), we happened upon Oliver’s Astoria, the slightly new pub at the corner of Broadway and 38th Street.

Oliver’s offers 16 rotating craft beer selections with a twist on typical bar food.  We started with a round of beer – an Allagash Hugh Malone and an Allagash White – and a cheese plate. I hate to confess that I only liked the cheese plate, though I suspect this has more to do with my high expectations of cheese. (It’s serious. Baalok affectionately calls me his lil cheese monger).  Baalok ordered the chicken sandwich. Coming from the South, I thought it was pretty good – just crunchy enough on the outside and moist on the inside. Baalok must have agreed because that sandwich was gone in about 10 seconds. I enjoyed the truffled mac n cheese – a nice, creamy concoction of white cheddar and parmesan topped with panko breadcrumbs.

We finished dinner with two pints of Empire White Aphro. It was refreshing with hints of lavender, honey and ginger. If I was sick and wanting to drink, Empire White Aphro would be the drink of choice. All in all, Oliver’s is welcoming with nice staff, good food. Guys can enjoy a game with buddies or take a girl out for a nice night. Don’t miss the happy hour specials – 2 for 1 drinks (and it’s not just Pabst or Miller Lite!).