OBAO: Asian Fusion done right

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Dear Food Diary:
I’ve never been a fan of Asian Fusion, mainly because prettier plate and nicer ambiance equals a bigger bill at the end. I stick to the pure, if I crave a certain cuisine, I go to such restaurant and period. First visit to OBao and I was proven wrong. Mixing Asian flavors is a tasteful idea and it left me wanting more.

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Using yellow coffee cans as chopstick holders to mimic Vietnamese street food stalls isn’t too creative, I’ve seen it at An Choi, but I guess it does achieve a more laid back feel along with the wooden communal tables in the back. It’s a friendly, easy going place, where it lets the Asian flavors do the talking. And the prices kept moderate for Midtown East.
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I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, this Chubby mama’s pork belly is the best, so 9/10 times, its a disappointment when I order, yet I never learn. Obao’s Crispy Pork Belly has a caramel glaze. It looked much better than it tasted. Its way too sweet and the pork was hard, dry and chewy, even the fat couldn’t save it. At about $3 a piece, I say skip this.
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The Spare Ribs on Sugar Cane Skewer on the other hand was a total winner. I usually get shrimp ones elsewhere, but these spicy honey mustard glazed spare ribs were juicy and had a nice caramelized chard from the grill. The sweet meat is such a treat. The crunch from the peanuts really is a nice finishing touch. I love nuts on food. And like any good Asian person, I chewed every one of those sugar canes, sucked every drop of sweet liquid until the poor suckers were dry and flat. I use to love sugar cane as a kid, so it brought a familiar feeling, with a twist from the grilled flavor. This sugar cane chewing deal must be refrained by all germaphobes, 
but for those of us who aren’t afraid of the hands who handled these, let’s chew on my friends, chew on! 
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Lao Yellow Rice had me at duck confit, but I could barely taste the best things about duck confit, the crispy skin and saltiness. Tasted more like shredded roast duck. Generous amount of egg which always makes fried rice better, garlic and golden chives. It has nice spices, a punch of curry. Overall a decent fried rice.
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I‘m not into savory food turning out to be sweet. The Pad See Iew uses fresh flat rice noodles. Perfectly cooked, a nice stretch and chew, great soft texture, the noodle itself was outstanding. They weren’t sticking to each other, demonstrating a skillful chef and a very hot wok. The kalbi short rib is tender, but as a whole it was way too sweet. Even the green mango kimchi couldn’t help it. If your sweet tooth transcends to entrees, this is your match.
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The Pad Thai is what brings me back time after time. I can’t seem to order anything else lately. I crave it, think about it, dream it.
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I know, I know, pad thai sounds boring, but have you had one where you break a runny poached egg? And lets not forget the crunchy, chewy, salty red snappers to top it off, along with peanuts, big shrimps and chives. Every bite is different, more egg, less egg, more salty fish, less peanuts. Salty, sweet, tangy, savory, soft, chewy, crunchy, my tastebuds thank me for making such a great choice. I can’t eat pad thai elsewhere, yeah, I said it. ALL OTHER PAD THAIS PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM ME. I’M TAKEN. This is best pad thai I’ve had. If you have experienced this before, shame on you for not sharing. As for me I’m catching up and making up for every bad pad thai I’ve had in this city.
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Bless Michael “Bao” Hyunh for bringing Chinatown quality Pho Bo to Midtown. This will solve all those sick days at work. All those cold days in the winter. All those times I just want a warm light broth to soothe my tummy. At $9, it’s totally fair, not to mention delicious and hearty. The rare beef is tender, braised brisket has been cooked for hours and the noodle is soft, all swimming inside a light yet flavorful ginger anise beef broth. 
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If your craving something heavier and soupy, the Singapore Laksa might be your answer. It’s a bit too rich for my taste. Spicy flavors over intense coconut broth is bold and awakening. 
Comes with light soba noodle, tiger shrimp and braised pork. 
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The green tea was mediocre quality at best. At $4 a pot, i would rather get Thai Ice Tea or Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Ohhh condense milk just have some kind of power over coffee and teas. 

P.S. 
Chubby’s RATING: 

www.obaony.com
222 East 53rd St
212.308.5588
OBao  on Urbanspoon