With a menu that reads like the greatest hits of Vietnamese street food, there's a lot to tempt you at BaoBQ, the latest venture in Michael "Bao" Huynh's ever-expanding range of pun-tastic ventures. He's the man behind Baoguette, Bao Noodles, and the now-shuttered Bar Bao and Bia Garden. We've been on again off about his sandwich shops, so couldn't help but wonder about BaoBQ.
Turns out that not only are the house specialties—Kai Yang, Ga Nuong, and Xuong Nuong tasty, they're a heck of a lunch deal as well.
The two chicken dishes each come in at $7 for an entire half chicken ($12 for a whole), while the Xuong Nuong pork chops are $7 for a 1/2 pound or $12 for a whole. Add in a couple of side dishes for their combo special, and you still keep the scales from tipping into double-digit territory.
If you didn't realize it, a half chicken, a buttload of rice, and a salad is a lot of food. Easily enough to serve two for lunch, meaning you and a companion can get great grub for under $5 apiece.
Of the dishes we tried, the tastiest was the Xuong Nuong, Grilled Vietnamese Thin Sliced Pork Chop. A double stack of thin-sliced, well-charred pork loin chops in a sweet and savory marinade with a side of nuoc cham sauce and an excellent fresh chili hot sauce that blows plain old sriracha out of the water. We ordered ours with Sticky Rice and Roasted Cauliflower. A drizzle of scallion oil flavors everything. It could have been a tad fattier and juicier, but flavorwise, the balance is spot-on.
Of the two chicken dishes, the Vietnamese-style Ga Nuong—Charcoal-Grilled Spicy Vietnamese Style Chicken—is superior to the Thai-style Kai Yang for its deeper char and sweeter, more flavorful marinade. SImilarly, we preferred the sweet and tangy Cucumber Relish to the needs-more-heat-and-flavor Papaya Som Tam Salad.
Is it the greatest Vietnamese food in the world? No. But is it a great lunch value and a reasonably tasty one to boot? You bet.