Food showdowns in you favorite cities. Who has the best soup dumplings? The best deep dish?Where can I find the tastiest empanadas? Let them fight to the death here, or rather, in our stomachs.
Every now and then I'll get a craving for something and nothing will stratify me completely until I've had it. Today, it was Chinese roasted BBQ pork buns. Unfortunately, I had only a half hour for lunch and I work in Midtown NYC - an area notorious for it's slow moving tourists, ubiquitous salad bars, and a notable lack of cheap, delicious Chinese food (or much good food altogether, really). While I'm a short ride away from Chinatown, I wouldn't be able to make it there and back within the 30 minuet time frame, so I set out on a Google-fueled search for BBQ pork buns within walking distance of my office.
And, miracles of miracles, they exist! There were two shops within feet of each other on the 35th street block between 7th and 8th. Sure, both looked a little dingy, but if they had delicious pork buns, I was there.
First up, 35th Street Bakery. A sliver of a bakery, tucked into the corner of 35th and 8th under a maroon awning, you duck inside and are greeted with a glass case of baked goods. I skipped over the egg tarts and raisin twists and asked for one BBQ pork bun. The bun itself was soft, chewy, thick and sweet - certainly not dry or over baked. However, the pork inside was a bit dryer than what I've had before. The bun certainly shines over the roasted BBQ pork in this version.
Up next was Fuji Bakery Store #4. It was much busier inside of this restaurant - perhaps the larger size and bigger windows attracted more passers-by. The counter stretched out in front of me with the register in the middle. On the left were endless choices of Chinese and American-faux-Chinese favorites that you can order up with rice for $5.00 during lunch. The the right were the baked goods. I ordered steamed rice noodles with dried shrimp and, of course, a BBQ pork bun.
This bun was less sweet and a bit too thin. The pork was was sweet, with just the right amount of sauciness. It was, however, lacking in the quantity of pork. This bun as a whole packed more flavor than the first, but the bread itself let me down.
And the winner is...
Today, the better bun was had at 35th street bakery. The bun was chewy and soft and the pork, although it was drier than the Fuji Bakery bun, was flavorful. I'll be heading back to 35th Street Bakery to get my fix when I can't make it down to Chinatown for the best of the best.
Have you tried either of these BBQ pork buns? Where is your favorite in the city? Any other spots we and our readers should know about in Midtown? Let us know in the comments!