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Bao’s Wows With White Plains Chinese

Bao's owner May Tan. Photo Credit: Brian Rattner
Sesame Chicken at Bao's in White Plains. Photo Credit: Brian Rattner
Boneless pork spare ribs appetizer. Photo Credit: Brian Rattner
General Tso's Chicken. Photo Credit: Brian Rattner
Bao's Chinese in White Plains. Photo Credit: Brian Rattner
Bao's Chinese in White Plains. Photo Credit: Brian Rattner

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - The quest for excellent Chinese food in Westchester drew me to Bao’s in downtown White Plains.

Located on the lower level of the original White Plains Mall near the corner of Hamilton Avenue and  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Bao’s has for 11 years thrived in a non-descript building best known as the location of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

Diners who can look past the aging building are greeted by the bubbly owner herself, May Tan, who is the hostess of her own well appointed and stylish restaurant. The extensive menu includes the usual dishes expected at a Chinese restaurant.

Additionally, there are selections from Thailand and Malaysia that showcase the talents of the chef. A tipoff that this restaurant is vastly different than your ordinary run-of-the-mill Chinese food is the long list of specials on the chalkboard outside the restaurant. The list is written in Chinese, with no English translation. Have no fear - the specials are also available in English inside the restaurant.

I always like to start off with soup at Asian restaurants since I have found that soup is an excellent gauge of the quality of the food that will follow. Hot and Sour soup at Bao’s is vegetarian but is extremely well done, even without pork. Spicy but not overly so, and thick enough to eat with a fork. Wonderful – and an excellent prelude to the food that follows.

Tasty appetizers include well-executed standards such as boneless spare ribs and chicken wontons bathed in peanut sauce. I believe that, unless you are allergic, one can never eat too much peanut sauce, and Bao’s delivers plenty in both regular and, on request, a spicy version.

My entrees included General Tso’s Chicken, Sesame Chicken, a combination of Walnut Shrimp and General Tso’s Chicken plus, at the insistence of May Tan, a final entrée of spicy Malaysian Rice with chicken, shrimp and beef. What is most distinctive about these four entrees is that they tasted exactly as I hoped they would: tasty, spicy and meaty instead of breaded and fried. Perhaps this is why Bao’s is one of the few local Chinese restaurants to earn a Zagat’s rating.

The General Tso’s chicken consists of large chunks of chicken and is crispy but yet not fried into an unrecognizable form. Plus, there is enough broccoli accompanying the chicken for all to share. My teenaged son complaining of “too much meat!” in both the General Tso’s chicken and the Sesame Chicken dishes summed it up perfectly.

For about $60, I received an epic amount of fine Chinese food that fed my family dinner and an additional two days of meals from the leftovers.

I can definitely recommend Bao’s for high quality Chinese food at a very reasonable price point. Bao’s is my new go-to restaurant for Chinese and is worth the trip from anywhere in Westchester.

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