Pillow-soft buns stuffed with everything from braised pork belly to lobster to ice cream. The bao is one food trend that just keeps getting better.
Hotto Bun NEW!
Hotto Bun started out as a restaurant specializing in gua bao (Taiwanese pork belly buns) in Rangsit. Now it's branched out to Tha Maharaj riverside mall as a permanently parked food truck. The owners are the chefs behind Spicy Shallot, a Thai and Japanese restaurant in New York, and here they add a few fusion twists to the popular soft bun snacks (from B65). Aside from the classic braised pork belly filling, the crispy battered chicken option comes dashed with spicy mayo and seaweed flakes, somehow resulting in a fusion Japanese flavor. There's also a tasty tempura fish choice, while fries set you back B55. For dessert, they fry up those same bao buns and serve them with either soy milk or green tea ice cream (B95). To drink, there's tangerine and kiwi barley tea (both B55).
Little Bao NEW!
The 20-seater Little Bao in Hong Kong is always packed out. But now it's branched out for the first time with a considerably bigger American-style diner in Bangkok. Drawing on her American upbringing, chef May Chow offers a playful, fast food-inspired take on traditional Chinese fare. Beyond appetizers like lamb tartare with tofu skin chips (B360) and salted-yolk orange chicken (B220), the bao burgers are the real star here, coming stuffed with fillings like pork belly, crispy Sichuan chicken, fish tempura and shiitake tempeh (B240 each). Also don’t miss the ice-cream bao (B120), which feature Guss Damn Good’s creamy flavors sandwiched between golden fried buns.
G/F, 72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-6922. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight
Paste is helmed by two of Bangkok's most highly-regarded modern chefs, Bongkoch Satongun and Jason Bailey, whose reinterpreted Thai menu centers on rare produce. An unlikely place for steamed buns perhaps, but outside of delicately plated curries and salads they've also been playing around Chinese bao in various fillings, whether it's the succulent looking pork (pictured) or the live lobster with pickled red raddish and freshly made XO cream. Call ahead to check availability.
3/F, Gaysorn Plaza, 999 Phloen Chit Rd., 02-656-1003. Open daily noon-2pm, 6:30pm-midnight. BTS Phloen Chit
Xiao Chi NEW!
This spin-off from Taiwanese guo bao specialist Bao & Buns (see above) introduces Bangkok to yet more varieties of Chinese street food, this time mostly from the mainland. From a petite counter at The Commons, Xiao Chi serves up a compact menu of classic regional fare like dan dan egg noodles (B140) and grilled pork (B180) from Szechuan, and Shanghai-style grilled beef (B200). Of course, you can still expect a variety of bao buns, including the traditional braised pork belly bao (B130) and the delicious Xi-an burger (pan-fried bao with chopped lamb shoulder, B180), which is derived from Xi’an’s Muslim quarter’s version of roujiamo (aka Chinese hamburger). We also love the look of their collaboration bao with neighboring Vietnamese restaurant Eastbound.
M/F, The Commons, Thonglor Soi 17, 02-185-2497. Open daily daily 11am-10pm