Dim-sum brunch buns
The dim-sum cart is rolling in honor of the new weekend brunch hours at Sampan, Michael Schulson's light-shifting lair of stylish Asian-fusion bites. There are a few nods to the traditional, such as the steamed chicken feet braised in soy with ginger and five-spice. But Schulson's true talent is for taking authentic ideas and giving them a stylish twist for the mainstream crowd (Gen. Tso's soup dumplings? Nice idea, now if they only had more soup inside.) The best bets among the neat steamer baskets rolling through the dining room were Sampan's takes on bao, the puffy round, steamed, white-bread buns that sandwich crispy morsels of pan-Asian goodness. This one features white meat chicken that's been brined overnight with ginger and chiles, then crisped into a wee cutlet that gets tucked inside with with pickled shallots, basil, and fresh mint. Add a splash of house-made Thai sweet chile sauce, devour, and you'll be ready to step up, and asking for a bao with pork belly, and maybe those chicken feet, too.
Chicken bao buns, $6, Sampan, 124 S. 13th St., 215-732-3501.
- Craig LaBan