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$20 Dinner

$20 Dinner: Sky-High Thai Sliders and Buckets of Joy at Baby’s Buns and Buckets

It says "buckets" right there in the name of this Dekalb Market joint, but you still can't really mentally prepare for what hits the table.

2:58 PM EDT on November 3, 2022

Fried chicken and fried fish buns, stacked high on paper plates ($7 each)

Fried chicken and fried fish buns, $7 each (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

It says "buckets" right there in the name of the place, and it's one of only two categories on the menu, but still, it's kind of hilarious when your order arrives at this newish Dekalb Market stall and it's literally a whole ass bucket of food. Not a "bowl." A bucket. We can only hope this becomes a trend.

Baby's Buns and Buckets opened a couple of months ago in the labyrinthian, neon-lit food hall in the basement of Downtown Brooklyn's City Point complex, which also houses a Target, Traders Joe's, Lulumon, and an Alamo Drafthouse, with luxury rental apartments soaring some 30 stories above. 

Plenty of vendors have come and gone since the Dekalb Market Hall first opened in 2017—and remember, the whole thing began as a ragtag collection of farmers, bakers, and artists in shipping containers in an empty lot before construction began—but even with all the changes and retail-gentrification here, there's still a lot of good energy to the space.

(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Baby's Buns & Buckets is very much a family business, run by sisters Sage and Senna Lau, whose parents own four other Thai spots around town including Thank You Come Again right across the aisle at Dekalb. Their other sister Ginger is also involved, and cousin Paul, just in from Thailand, is helping out on the register. 

"Our mother [Roongkant Preechathammarach, whom everyone calls Miss Toon] is the chef of the family and the magic behind all the food," Sage told Hell Gate. "But with Baby's we wanted to imagine what it would be like if we were more fast casual. We wanted to make it almost like fast food. Easy to consume, easy to understand."    

As such, the Baby's Buns and Buckets menu is basically just four things prepared two different ways. There's some excellent fried chicken thigh, all crackling on the outside and juicy within, and slabs of equally good, equally crisp fried fish. The grilled honey pork is lovely, a tangle of sweet fat and chewy meat. Chunks of fried portobello round out the foursome, if you're looking for something vegetarian.  

You can get any of the above stacked high in an almost comically-tiny brioche bun, topped with stuff like greens, pickled onions, tomatoes, garlic mayo, papaya slaw, and chili sauce. It all falls apart pretty quickly—you'll need a fork—but it definitely does make an impression when it hits the table. As Senna told me, "We like to be dramatic." 

"Baby's Bucket," starring grilled honey pork, $16 (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The buckets are less messy than just eating out of the bun, but because of their size, create almost as much of a spectacle. It'd be one thing if it were a bucket of popcorn, or even pieces of fried chicken to share with your whole family—but this is a single (albeit very shareable) entree, with a pile of meat, the toppings from the buns, and around three fingers of classic sticky rice or chicken-stock soaked fatty rice. Get excited my dudes! You're eating dinner out of a bucket!!  

The eye-catching stall was designed and built (with help from a contractor friend) by Senna, and the really baller move is to snag the Baby's Buns mini-booth around the corner from the ordering counter. Barring that, there are a few stools set before the counters, one of which doubles as a swag shop. If all those options are taken, the market has tons of communal tables all over the place.

(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Hell Gate total for two, including tax but not including tip: $32.66.

Baby's Buns and Buckets is located at 445 Albee Square West, in the basement, at the Dekalb Market Hall. I always get lost down here but just walk around, you'll see it. BBB is open on weekdays from 11:15 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and on weekends from 11:15 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (347-915-7717) 

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