Every couple of months New York undergoes a sweeping change in its restaurant scene. Food crazes suddenly appear from nowhere and take the city by storm. I’ve been pretty over the cupcake for a while, and I’ve eaten way too much Banh Mi this past year. Now it’s time for New York’s newest food craze to emerge. So what will it be? Bratwurst? Milkshakes? Chopped liver? Arriving to the scene this week with its roots dug deep in LA comes Korean Tacos to carry us out of this uncreative funk. The first to do it in New York is of course the king of over expansion Michael Bao Hyunh. I was fortunate enough to eat at Baorrito last night and meet Hyunh himself — the food and experience was nothing short of amazing.
With over 10+ current and developing locations in New York, Michael Bao Hyunh is a restauranteur superstar. From the successful Baoguette franchise to his imminent take over of St. Marks (last year Huynh purchased 3 properties on the small street). His personal brand is easily identifiable — small, cheap and good with “bao” themed puns in their names.
When I walked into the shop last night the staff was having a soft-open and Michael Bao Hyunh was in the kitchen. I was of course surprised to see him back there but was instantly impressed. Hyunh filled a special order for a vegetarian customer who didn’t have any other viable options on the meat filled menu. I asked Hyunh why he decided to embrace this new trend, and he said it was a “natural thing.” He added, “I did this for my Mexican cooks. I have about 30 or 35 on my staff. After the kitchen’s closed, they made me this stuff with all of the Asian leftovers and it was too good not to sell.”
I also asked Hyunh if he thought about making Baorrito mobile and buying a food truck. He smiled and said, “That would be great, but it’s very hard in New York. Everyone wants a food truck.”
Baorrito is no different from Hyunh’s other restaurants. It’s got the “punny” name (Bao+burrito=burrito), cheap food (burrito is seven dollars), and great food (seven dollar burrito). I had the Braised Short Rib Baorrito. Stuffed inside the bao were braised short ribs, Napa cabbage kim chi, beans, rice, and a horseradish Crème fraiche that functioned as a great sour cream. The burrito was a generous portion and left me beyond satisfied. The Napa cabbage had a great crunch and the whole balance of flavors was nice. I wish the short ribs were a little more tender and had a richer flavor, but I’m chalking that up to the quality of a first night’s batch.
The experience left me wanting to come back for more (especially to try the pulled pork burrito). I predict this will be a great addition to the Michael Bao Hyunh empire, and if Baorrito goes mobile this trend will last for a very long time.