Lately, I have come to really appreciate a good brunch; there's just something about it that's so comforting, relaxing, and indulgent (champagne at noon, anyone?). However, brunch doesn't always have to be comprised of eggs benedict or smoked salmon and bagels. Bao Noodles in Gramercy does a great Vietnamese brunch for $9.99 pp, and it was deliciously different.
Their new "Brunch Special" menu is kind of small, but the options are very different, so it still feels like you have plenty to choose from; and of course, each entree comes with either a Bloody Bao (lemongrass and habanero spiked bloody mary), Bao Bellini (peach puree, citrus vodka, golden star tea) or Mimosa. My friend Monique was with me for this brunch, and she has a thing for Bloody Mary's, so she was very excited about the twist on the traditional. I have a preference for sweeter drinks during brunch (I'm such a girl), so I opted for the Bao Bellini.
We each got a sampling of Vietnamese Congee, which is similar to porridge, though I assume it's very different than what Goldilocks had. This Congee is made of rice and there is a seafood version (squid, crab and shrimp) and a poultry/meat version (chicken, pork, duck). It was like eating cream of wheat…with shrimp and pork in it. That was sort of the consistency that it reminded me of. It came with five little pieces of fried dough on the side (mmm fried), with soy sauce for dipping and some fried onions to top off the Congee (mmm fried again). I was pleasantly surprised with this one, because I can't lie, from the looks of it I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but we both agreed that it was really good – probably not for everyone, but if you're open minded I would give it a chance.
Now, there were a few things on the brunch menu that jumped out at us, and they both involved eggs (I guess we're more traditional than we thought). There was the Vietnamese Breakfast, which is a Panko crusted pork chop Banh Mi with fried egg; the Hanger Steak and Eggs, which is pretty self explanatory, and the Vietnamese Omelette with Yucca fries, also pretty self explanatory. We both wanted to try the Pork chop Banh Mi, so it came down to the omelette or the steak…and the steak won. Nothing says hearty brunch like Steak and Eggs! The steak was perfectly cooked to a nice, medium rare, and the eggs were scrambled and fluffy.
Hanger Steak and Eggs…mm meat
However, I think the real winner here was the Vietnamese Breakfast: the sandwich was huge, and I popped the yolk on the egg, which caused all the yolky deliciousness to run down the sides of the bread (drool). It was one of those delicious-but-messy sandwiches that required a lot of napkins and finger-licking. Not ideal if you're on a brunch date with someone you want to impress. Fortunately, Monique didn't judge. Maybe that's because she split the sandwich with me and had the same problem. It was really good though – the carrots, the cucumber, the crispy, juicy pork and the egg complimented each other so well. I'd go back for that sandwich right now, but this time, I'd bring some wet-naps.
391 2nd Ave (nr 23rd st)