Eddie Huang Leverages Baohaus into Food Show

Eddie Huang, a former lawyer and fashion designer who has found his calling selling Taiwanese style gua bao, debuted on January 1 as host of the Cooking Channel series Cheap Bites.

Huang opened Baohaus in 2008 in a tiny space that filled up quickly. The restaurant’s top seller was the Chairman bun, a gua bao made with red cooked pork belly and topped Taiwanese style with peanut powder and red sugar. Gua baos are a burger-like sandwich served on traditional Chinese steamed buns.

The buns were a hit with New Yorkers and Huang’s restaurant made the Zagat Survey. Baohaus is now located at 238 E. 14th Street. (The one on Rivington St is closed at the end of 2011, according to Yelp.) In May 2011 Huang himself made Zagat’s list of 30 up-and-coming chefs under the age of 30. This distinction and Huang’s popular food blog led to him being selected to host Cheap Bites.

As the host of Cheap Bites Huang will do a lot of traveling around the country in search of inexpensive but high-quality eateries. He will also be incidentally tossing in liberal doses of his street-smart personal take on culture and politics with the aim of showing that Asian-Americans aren’t at all like the stereotypes imagined by many Americans. In the show’s premiere episode Huang showcased his own Bauhaus and a nearby neighborhood bar that attracts crowds of NYU students by giving away a free pizza with every beer. The episode also shows off Huang’s savvy patter.

Huang’s parents moved to the US before he was born. Huang, 30, worked as a lawyer and as a fashion designer before opening Bauhaus with the thought of hitting the gap between cheap and dirty Chinese restaurants and the upscale showpieces that price themselves out of reach of most foodies. Another impulse may have been the desire to compensate for bad childhood memories of classmates complaining that his lunch box smelled bad. But in opening a bao shop Huang was also following in the footsteps of his mother and grandfather who had both sold gua bao in Taipei.