Brandon C. posted on 01/24/2013
Rating & Review:
If you are tired of Springfield Cashew Chicken and want to try something different, or you are tight on your budget but still want to have a decent meal, go BAO BAO. They serve great American Chinese food and featured authentic Chinese food. And the price is very reasonable.
Recall my first time there. That was my neighbor Gary who recommended this restaurant to me. Gary is a Veteran who stayed in Asia for seven years when he was young. Gary told me one day he eventually found a Chinese restaurant in Springfield serving REAL Chinese food. I thought, Yeah? Frankly, I donít think a lot of people in Springfield know what authentic Chinese food is. Come on, nobody eats Cashew Chicken in China. The first time I went there, I was thinking what kind of food they sell in this small ďsandwich shopĒÖ The restaurant is so small. Anyway, I still ordered Shanghai Style Won Ton Soup. I had won ton somewhere else. But their Won Ton is extremely different. Twelve Jumbo Won Ton (Pork and Shrimp) w/ fresh vegs in delicious broth. That was the best Won Ton soup Iíd ever had before. After that, I got to admit Gary was right.
Now I am a regular in BAO BAO and actually I go there at least three or four times a week. My favorite there is Beef and Green Bean (Non-spicy). If you like spicy stuff, go for Chinese Style Kun Bao Chicken. And make sure you say "Chinese Style" Kun Bao Chicken! Otherwise, you probably will get American Kun Bao Chicken instead. Notably, the Chef may customize Spicy Level based on your request. (Sweet!) My suggestion is: always start from little-mild spicy, if you donít want to burn your head. You may ask for some chilly paste on the side, if you want to challenge yourself later on.
As I know, there are hundreds of Chinese Restaurants in Springfield. However, few Chinese restaurants serve authentic Chinese food. The reason is simple--because serving authentic Chinese food is not cost/benefit efficient at all for business. i.e. Cooking authentic Chinese food takes much longer than cooking American Chinese food like Springfield Cashew Chicken. Why they still want to do that? I guess because they are a small family business and donít have a super high volume. Then, they may take their time. I dare to say, BAO BAO serves the best authentic Chinese food in town. I guess that's why bunches of Chinese students willing to drive 20 minutes one-way just for dining in there... Itís not easy at all to fool Chinese taste buds with Chinese food. As I know, some MSU professors, who have been to China before, also go there quite often.
Their American Chinese dishes, like General Chicken and Mandarin Chicken, are also pretty good. If it is your 1st time there, take some time to study the menu. The dish names are very long and seemingly complicated but donít freak away. They are exactly the same stuffs. If you still get lost, ask for helps. The employee will be nice to give you some recommendations based on your preferences during off-peak periods. The price is pretty reasonable, starting from $4.95 pretax. Daily Special (Middle Column on the board) is more like a combo, coming with two crab rangoons (you may substitute for one egg roll), choice of soup (egg drop or HOT & sour) and rice (fried or steamed). You cannot substitute soup for rice. That means, you pass the soup, you pass it. However, I strongly recommend you try their HOT & sour soup. It is really good but HOT. In addition, they have Chef Specials (Right Column on the board), including Bourbon Steak and Crispy Salt & Pepper Pork/Fish. Chef special is more like dinner portion and only comes with rice.
With regard to one of the previous reviews concerning overcharging issues, actually once I felt that I had been overcharged, but I chose to ask the young lady there for explanation. She then told me the 5:00 PM house rule: They don't serve lunch daily specials after 5:00 PM for dine-in. However, you can still get the lunch daily specials for pick-up or carry-out. And the nice young lady also told me that: if you have any question about the total, don't hesitate to ask. Any employee there will be more than glad to explain and to give you an itemized receipt under request. Again, if you place an order via phone, if you want to have LUNCH portion for pick-up after 5:00 PM, make sure you tell them. They also make reservations for small parties and deliver big orders.
Some more tips here. For some battered dished, for instance, crispy salt and pepper pork/fish or general chicken, you'd better eat there. Otherwise, the crispy crust will be softened. If you choose to take home, make sure you will pick up soon or let them know the specific time when you will pick up.
Lastly, don't forget to ask for the "secret menu", study it and have a try. Thereíre a lot of good stuffs on it. The meatball with cabbage and clear noodle served in a hot pot is worth a try. If you are a vegetarian, the "secret menu" also has some vegetarian features on the back. The Tofu dishes are really good.
Take your friends to BAO BAO and enjoy the food there. I am sure you will like the food there. They have good, fresh and affordable food.