Scheduled to have a grand opening today, I was tipped off by a few fellow Astorians that The Bao Shoppe was having a soft opening yesterday. In what has to be one of the most highly anticipated Astoria arrivals in recent memory, The Bao Shoppe opened its doors to an enormous crowd, a mix of family and friends, and curious folks wandering in off of Steinway Street.
We went straight for the Baos, steamed bun sandwiches, including The O.G., a classic with rich, fatty braised pork belly, daikon slaw, and pickle, and The Colonel Bao with tender fried chicken, coleslaw and pickle. We couldn’t resist the offer to have both sandwiches hit with spicy mayonnaise, a decision I can’t imagine going back on in the future
Looking around, it appeared to been a grave mistake not to have ordered the French Fries like everyone else around us. They are currently offering Curry Fries, Shoppe Fries heaped with kimchi, daikon, spicy mayo and BBQ sauce, and the Biggie Fries, featuring all those ingredients plus your choice of meat.
And never fear, vegetarians, along with a number of the sides, there is even a meat free Bao sandwich, The Hungry Buddhist, with crispy tofu, daikon, and kimchi, that sounds awesome.
There is also an extensive beverage menu at Bao Shoppe, which includes Bubble Milk Tea, Green and Black Teas, and various cold drinks including Vietnamese Coffee and Thai Iced Tea. I went for a Taro Bubble Milk with tapioca, made from a powder mix, which was wonderfully creamy and not too overly sweet.
The Bao Shoppe space is bright and welcoming. It also cheerfully incorporates a good deal of art, including its signature mural with Snoopy hanging out with the N and Q trains, and a long hallway in the back that looks like an art gallery (all the pieces minus the mural are available to be purchased). Much of the art has a dynamic street art feel that matched the great street food being served inside.