Bao Tea House (NYC)

The struggle to say goodbye to the bao belly.

Our experience

A few months ago, we noted that we are making it our mission this year to try to seek out lesser known dessert spots in NYC.  From a store specializing in milky tres leches cake, to two focusing on tofu pudding, and then another offering a small selection of Filipino desserts, today we showcase a tiny basement spot in Greenwich Village.

Bao Tea House focuses on baos.  Most of the menu is dedicated to savoury baos, which come in three varieties: baked baos, gua baos and rice baos.  Don’t miss the char siew baked bao, which makes for an excellent snack and is similar in style to Tim Ho Wan’s own version.  As for desssert, there are six types of sweet baos.  We love the “Lava Bao,” a charcoal-black mound filled with a coconut milk egg custard.  The custard filling could be more generous.  We have also tried the “Egg Bao,” with a heart of salted egg yolk and water chestnut, and the “Matcha” Bao filled with red bean paste, but otherwise no perceptible green tea tones despite its name.  None are overly sweet, and all have a crispy outer shell.  Other sweet varieties include one rolled in chocolate, another infused with rose and an ube-flavoured one. 

Our verdict

Almost a decade ago, there was a bao-shop boom in Melbourne (see our previous review here).  Fast forward a decade in NYC, a city saturated with dessert stores and not suffering from any scarcity of steamed baos found in Chinatown’s many bakeries, Bao Tea House has nonetheless carved out a sweet little niche for itself.  Because of its irresistible char siew baos and certainly, its sweet baos, our attempts to say goodbye to the pandemic-induced bao belly is proving extremely difficult!


Dessert adventure checklist

  1. ☑ Dessert destination: Bao Tea House, 140 West 4th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
  2. ☑ Budget: $ ($3.25 for one, or $6 for two).
  3. ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Chinese desserts.
  4. ☑ Must-eat: The Lava Bao.
  5. ☑ The short and sweet story: The struggle to say goodbye to the bao belly.

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