People may be inclined to argue the point, but there is a real lack of good, authentic Chinese cuisine in the Crescent City. Of all the Chinese restaurants I’ve experienced since moving here, Jung’s Golden Dragon is the closest I’ve come, that is until I dined at Bao & Noodle.
A few months back, my friend Anne and I ventured out into Bywater to get a taste of Chef Doug Crowell’s take on Chinese cuisine. When we arrived at the baby-blue building that looked as if it once might have been a corner store, the restaurant was empty of diners. We walked straight up to the front counter (a.k.a. fold-out table) and picked up a paper menu before a woman appeared from the back all smiles, offering to help us order.
We grabbed a table near a window and sat down to order what seemed like most of the menu and then waited patiently for our feast to arrive. We began with a plate of fried, local shishito chilis drizzled with black vinegar that we gobbled hungrily, enjoying the sweet flavor of the peppers against the tart vinegar. We also shared some crispy, scallion pancakes with a dipping sauce made from a mixture of soy and vinegar.
We oohed and aahed when the feature arrived, two, gorgeous steamed and fried pork bao,
delightfully sweet and savory at the same time and served with the same soy and vinegar mixture for dipping. We enjoyed these so much, that while waiting for our entrees, we debated whether or not to try the baked bao, too (the bao won!).
Now, to be perfectly honest, I completely forgot what Anne got as an entree, but I clearly remember mine! I ordered the tea-smoked duck breast and it was so freaking juicy, tender and delicious (and gluten-free!) that I almost inhaled the whole plate before offering Anne a bite.
We did order dessert as well, but I am pretty sure they weren’t ready for that request because when we got our custard-filled mooncake (doesn’t that sound awesome?), it was still partially frozen. By that time we were so full of lovingly prepared Chinese food, I doubt we would have properly enjoyed the dish anyhow. Maybe I should warn restaurants ahead of time so they’ll be sure to have dessert ready?