Bryant Park Winter Garden, part 2.

I revisited the Bryant Park Winter Garden to check out the two dumpling kiosks that I missed on my last visit.

Fried Tofu Bao

Bao by Kaya is a pop-up version of the larger Bao by Kaya at the Urbanspace on Lexington Ave.  They specialize in Taiwanese cuisine and the signature Gua Bao, which is a steamed flat, white fluffy bun that is folded over the filling.  The Bryant Park pop-up serves Bao with Pork Belly, Red Curry Chicken, Peking Duck, Shrimp Tempura, Szechuan braised Beef Shank or Fried Tofu.  I tried the Fried Tofu Bao which is filled with a roughly 1.5 by 3 inch block of batter dipped and fried tofu, with red cabbage, red onion, cilantro, black sesame seeds and sweet chili sauce.  The tofu had a really great crispy/crunchy coating that balanced the softness of the tofu within and of the bao and I enjoyed the sweet chili sauce a lot.  But I thought that the bao could have used more cabbage for texture and more onion to round out the flavors.  Overall I enjoyed this bun and I would recommend it over the dishes being served by the three kiosks I tried on my prior visit.

Pork Bao

One more bao

The last of the dumpling options is Destination Dumplings, which was by far the best of the five places I tried.  Chef Tristan Chin-Fatt and Deon Whiskey, the two owners, describe themselves as two kids from Queens, and were both born in Flushing, the Asian food mecca of Queens.  Destination Dumplings doesn’t have a permanent location yet and instead does pop-ups and catered events. I got to Bryant Park at around 7 and it looked like Destination Dumplings had been slammed with customers, they were out of almost everything.  Dishes I wasn’t able to try include – dumplings stuffed with Pork and Chive, Korean Beef, Peking Duck, or Edamame and steamed Bao filled with Spicy Pork.  They did have regular pork bao, which were a revelation and the best dumpling that I tried at Bryant Park.  The pork filling was incredibly well seasoned, flavorful and juicy, like eating pork that had been slow braised in a soy based marinade for hours.  I ordered two bao and then went back for a third one.  The bao were served with slivered scallion and sesame seeds and were doused with soy sauce.

Destination Dumplings has also figured out how to over-come the space constraints of the Winter Garden kiosks in a way that Bun Ramen has not.  They have stacked, multi-tiered steamers cooking their dumplings and bao and a flat top grill for searing the dumplings.  As a result everything they were serving was freshly cooked and they were not relying on a micro-wave like Bun Ramen was.  I am going to return to Destination Dumplings earlier in the day and try some of their other dumpling offerings.

This entry was posted in Bao, Buns, New York City, Pork. Bookmark the permalink.

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