2020 is getting, among other things, old. You’ve developed a rotation of takeout spots, scribbled the same recurring thoughts in your “worry journal,” and consistently texted the same four friends and neglected to respond when they text back. Of course, you could adopt a short-haired cat named Tomato to snap yourself out of the routine. But then you’d have to take care of a short-haired cat named Tomato. If you’re looking for something to get you out of a funk, we have a better idea. Order dinner from a new spot on the Lower East Side called The Bun Hut.
Most of The Bun Hut’s menu incorporates Jamaican, West Indian, and Bahamian dishes, like sticky jerk chicken, braised curry goat, and coconut shrimp. But the difference between Bun Hut and your neighborhood jerk chicken spot is that you can try nearly everything in the form of a steamed bao or a massive roti.
The takeout baos come disassembled, so you get to create your own pocket of lightly-fried butterflied shrimp with a squeeze of lime and a swipe of mango chutney. The roti, which is possibly larger than a brick, comes assembled. We especially like the one with coconut curry chicken. It’s filled with enough contrasting textures to warrant a reality show where they all live in a house together. The creamy curry-bathed chicken would be the ring leader, even though the chunks of sweet fried plantains will be the crowd favorite, and the cold, pickled mango and corn salad would say some sh*t to rile everyone else up. We’d happily watch reruns of this roti show on MTV2 at 3am, and you should too.
The Bun Hut is accepting takeout and delivery through their website. There isn’t currently any outdoor dining available, but if you go to pick up your order, you’ll catch a glimpse of the colorful murals, open kitchen with onlooking bar stools, and big leather banquette that wraps around the front of the restaurant. There is no alcohol for takeout yet (they do have drinks like cassava punch and hibiscus lemonade), but we hope to drink something with rum and a lot of crushed ice in their dining room one day in the not too distant future.
If you do decide to adopt a short-haired cat named Tomato to make your life more exciting, just remember that it’ll never feed you coconut shrimp bao like The Bun Hut will. Plus, cats aren’t as thrilling as shrimp anyway.
Each bao order comes with two pieces, and you’re not going to want to share. The rich, stewed oxtail meat has more depth than any conversation you’ve had in the past five months with a coworker. Plus, it comes with sour, pickled onions on top that look like little pink halos.
Even though the fried batter on the shrimp is almost all coconut flakes, it still tastes perfectly savory (instead of acting as a seafood dessert, like some coconut shrimp). Use a hearty splash of the spicy, golden mango chutney that comes on the side when you compile your bao, and a little bit of the craisin-filled cole slaw for texture contrast and crunch.
This breaded crab cake bao could easily steal the show at a porch party in Maryland. It has pure crab flavor, with just a bit of acidity from the chunky mango and onion salsa.
The baos work as ideal snacks or appetizers, but the rotis at Bun Hot are no-bullsh*t meals. If you finish both halves of the wrap, you’re going to have to retire for at least six to ten hours. This one is creamy, subtly spicy, and filled with hunks of sweet plantains and julienned carrots.
Aside from the braised goat itself, our favorite thing about this roti is the hidden potato bites. They soak up all of the stewed, cinnamon-y-sour flavors of the goat stew. You’ll end up picking them out like they’re quarters in your wallet. Just be careful when you bite into it as there are goat bones around. Your dentist doesn’t like seeing you either.
Imagine if a gooey, yellow cake got extremely wasted and topped itself with walnuts as a party trick. OK now stop imagining, and try this boozy cake for yourself. It’s incredible. Note that your takeout cake (unfortunately) will not come with a side of rum.