As posted previously, I may not have gotten to OBAO for lunch, but I certainly made my way over there for dinner. Turns out they don't take reservations, but it really wasn't packed at all. There were more orders being placed for delivery, from what I could tell. Either way, I was still pretty excited. Me and Alexis, my best friend/foodie, sat down for our meal when the waitress dropped the first bomb: they don't take credit cards or debit cards yet, only cash. *BOOM!* Then she dropped the second bomb: they don't have their liquor license yet, so no alcohol. *KABOOM!* I couldn't be too annoyed – the place just opened this week, plus I've heard the food was delicious, so we made the necessary sacrifices.
The menu is very enticing; I could have ordered every appetizer and every noodle dish, but I knew I wanted Pad See Iew for my entree. The appetizers were a tough decision, but we decided on the Crispy Pork Belly and the Spare Rib on a Sugar Cane Skewer. And the Pad See Iew is made with Kalbi short ribs. Mmmm meat.
The food arrived pretty quickly, and apparently right out of the wok/fryer. The crispy pork belly was so hot, and since it's covered in a sticky, sugary glaze, I burnt my lips and got a nice little sugar burn. Those are always fun. I can't say it wasn't worth it though; the pork belly was fantastic. If you think you wouldn't like it, it's basically large cubes of bacon (bacon is usually made from pork belly) covered in a caramelized glaze. Sound better now?? The crunchy, sugary skin on the outside with the savory meat and fat on the inside…it was umami heaven. And while this certainly wasn't the focus of the dish, the pickled carrot salad was really good. I could eat a bowl of it.
The spare rib on the sugar cane skewer was also really tasty. It came with a peanut satay-style dipping sauce and was unlike any appetizer I've had in this food genre. The spare rib is sliced thin and wrapped around the sugar cane skewer, then grilled to perfection. Top it with a little satay sauce and some crumbled peanuts and you've got a nice little treat for the tastebuds.
My Pad See Iew was pretty much everything I was hoping for: lots of noodles, bitter greens, short ribs and fried egg. I don't need to say more, but I will. It was great – everything was cooked perfectly, and they don't skimp on the portions here. The chunks of Kalbi were big, and there was more than enough noodles and mustard greens. Surprisingly, I couldn't finish it. I also tasted Alexis' Griled Pork and Shrimp Vermicelli dish, which looked enormous in this huge bowl. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and went really nice with the vermicelli noodles and herb dressing. It was a much lighter dish than mine though – I could see polishing that one off a lot easier. My only gripe: the tails were on the shrimp. Kind of makes it hard to take a bite with everything when you have to put down your chopsticks and yank off the tail. When someone figures out how to take the tail off of a shrimp while it's still in your mouth, let me know. Screw the cherry stem-knot, THAT will be the new party trick.
At the end of the meal, there was one last bomb to be dropped: no dessert yet. *BABOOM!* Normally, this would make me very angry, but again, I'll give them some time. It's only been a week. Congratulations to Michael Huynh on his umpteenth restaurant, it was an all-around great meal. Get that liquor license up and running and you'll really be in business.
222 East 53rd Street