by Pat Nourse
The smiling pink neon baby that beams above the door to this tiny, packed diner has become something of an instant icon for locals. In a post-Momofuku reclamation of the Chinese-style bun, chef May Chow draws as freely on her appreciation of American culture as she does on her Hong Kong childhood. There’s “hawt” sauce on the counter and Vans x Little Bao shirts on the young staff, but it’s fermented bean curd that provides the creamy stank on the excellent lamb tartare served with tofu crisps, and fried dace (the tinned fish that has been a pantry staple for many a local family) with black bean that drops the umami bomb on a freeform chopped Caesar salad. And the bao? In a nod to the burger joints that were in part her inspiration, Chow spreads them with miso mayo and griddles them before filling them, giving them a bit more structure. With a cold tin of beer in one paw and the fried-chicken number, fizzy with Sichuan pepper, in the other, it’s an easy point to appreciate.