Was in the midtown east neighborhood and decided that it was my turn to weigh in on OBAO. One of the newer restaurants in Michael "Bao" Huynh's rapidly expanding empire, this one seems to have caught the most blogger attention in the last couple of months. Huynh has been opening restaurants at a crazy pace since that first Baoguette, which I like but haven't been to in quite a while. OBAO's cuisine is pan-asian, focusing on a mix and match of different Asian styles with a simple menu of appetizers and rice and noodle dishes.
This is the spare rib on sugar cane skewer. I took a bite while I was reading and only after swallowing did I bother to look down and realize it was undercooked. I sent it back and got a new one, which was acceptable but not really blasted either. I don't know why they need to do that, since it's a pretty thin strip of meat that should be tender fully cooked. The sauce was rather tasteless, the glaze was pretty sweet, and the sugar cane didn't really add anything. It wasn't even that great to gnaw on, which I usually like.
Next came their version of the pad see iew, consisting of flat rice noodles (the equivalent of chow fun at chinese takeout places), kalbi short rib, a little egg, mustard greens and green mango kimchi. I was actually surprised by the portion size. It was pretty big for $11. The kalbi was ok, thin and dry at times with the usual sweet flavor. The greens felt like chinese broccoli which was a bonus. The dish was more like a chinese version of chow fun than a thai version of pad see iew. What really made the dish for me though was the green mango kimchi. It had a nice texture and a terrific sour and spicy flavor that went really well with the slightly greasy (in a good way) noodles.
This was the Lao yellow rice with duck confit and golden chives. It sounded interesting on the menu so I ordered some to go. It smelled wonderful when I opened up the container. This dish was actually very good in its execution. I could easily imagine dry pieces of confit and dry rice but all of it was moist and flavorful.
Normally, I expect something to be comped when the kitchen sends out undercooked pork or chicken because of how dangerous it is. That did not happen here. Maybe the tapeworm will just help me lose some weight without exercising. While I only tried limited parts of the menu, I would say that it's worth going to if you're in the area, especially for the noodle and rice dishes. The portions for those dishes are generous, and they are well executed. I can still remember the green mango kimchi.