391 Second Avenue
(between 22nd and 23rd)
New York, NY
Bao Noodle’s unassuming front opens into a mini-hall, replete with comforting splendor. The high ceilings and dim lighting create an aura of warmth, which is echoed in the delicately flavored but wholesome Vietnamese food.
We started our dinner with a side of grilled eggplant. A smattering of crunchy scallions topped the vegetable’s slippery, burnished slices, adding a sharp crunch to the dish. The side of garlic dipping sauce was mild enough to not overwhelm the soft sweetness of the eggplant.
Next up was a bowl of spring rolls on a bed of rice vermicelli and veggies. This was my first time eating noodles mixed with spring rolls, but now it’s one of my new favorite meals. Bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, and juicy carrots topped the finespun white vermicelli. I poured the accompanying soy-garlic sauce over everything, and tossed the vegetables and spring rolls with the noodles. The rolls were fried to golden perfection, and biting into one was like hitting a jackpot of concentrated deliciousness amidst already tasty noodles and refreshing slivers of veggies. The whole dish was similar to eating a warm, fresh, and filling salad…with noodles instead of lettuce.
For dessert, we ordered an aromatic panna cotta. A pale, pretty green, the panna cotta was ethereally creamy, melting in my mouth and leaving behind a taste of pure content.
grilled eggplant: $4.95; vegetable spring rolls on rice vermicelli: $6.95; panna cotta: I don’t remember but not very expensive.