Things are getting steamy, with these (bao) buns
I’m a buns gal. When I see buns, I gravitate towards them and bao are my Achilles heel. Big, small, hard, soft, I love ‘em all. Walking around San Francisco, you’ll catch sight of your fair share of nice looking buns. It’s natural to stop and stare, even salivating a tiny bit is acceptable.
These buns look good. Smooth and round, they’re hot and ready and good for a gander. Many of them may even be worth a little squeeze every once in awhile, but there are only a few buns in SF that are really fantastic.
As a wise man once said “you ain’t got none, unless you got buns hun.” So let’s get ourselves some buns. Here are my picks for the best buns San Francisco has to offer, bao buns that is.
Less than a year after opening, this Sutter Street restaurant is getting everyone talking. Walking onto the restaurant scene and unwrapping its Hawaiian Inspired menu on San Francisco like the mysterious new kid all the girls want a piece of. With sexy takes on baked Alaska and ample helpings of fried game hen, the rise to popularity is no surprise. The star of stars at the new hot spot: the beef tongue buns. Melt in your mouth tender meat, with spicy kimchi and cucumbers toppling off of the poppy seed crusted bun.
The Tacolicious sister restaurant sits proudly on 16th and Guerro, attracting admirers as much for it’s trendy style as its food. Things get steamy quick in the dumplings department but the pork belly boa buns steal the show. Aside from involving pork belly (which less face it is almost like cheating in the foodgasm world) these cushy seats are packing creamy avocado salsa, crisp pickled onions and a hint of spiced up mayo between their cheeks.
It may be the chase that makes it fun, but catching site of these on the move buns always revs my engine. The Chaiman food truck does one thing and one thing only, buns. So, it’s no wonder that their some of the best to wrap your lips around. Almost all the protein packed boa buns can be ordered steamed or baked, providing happiness to both firm and soft bun admirers. The real trouble with these buns is picking what to sandwiched in between them. With tantalizing choices like Coca-Cola braised pork with savoy cabbage and preserved yellow mustard seeds or muscovy duck confit terrine with green papaya, orange pickled red onion and mint, there’s a chance you’ll foodgasm reading the menu.
4.Good Mong Kok Bakery
A Chinatown gem, that’s easy on the wallet. Peeking through the window at Good Mong Kok Bakery feels like Aladdin stepping into the Cave of Wonders, except instead of only being able to grab the lamp, you can have all the treasures! Amidst all the dumplings sit the seductive golden brown char siu bao, glistening with buttery goodness and full of juicy, sweet barbecued pork. While the other dumplings are beautiful bites of desire, the char siu bao is the first love of the dim sum counter. If you find a place to sit here you’ve struck gold, so be prepared to take your bao on the road. They travel well.
Probably the most popular dim sum spot in all of SF. Yank Sing specializes in Cantonese style dim sum, sit down style. The antitheses of the Good Mong Kok Bakery, Yank Sing is rough on the wallet and classy through and through. Instead of aggressively pointing at the bao you’re craving over the counter, then proceeding to devour them while strolling the stimulating streets of Chinatown; you’ll sit at white tablecloths and inspect the steamy bamboo baskets as they wheel by you. What these places have in common is great buns. Don’t hold back on the lobster dumplings finished with tobiko or the traditonal Shanghai dumplings, but take time to savor and appreciate the gentle curves and fluffy white buns of the Peking duck buns.
Ogling buns that aren’t on this list? Share your favorite bao bun spots in SF.