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Dear Hot Dish,
I'm seriously craving some bao right now. Any ideas on where to find it?
Bao, otherwise known as baozi, humbow, nunu, bausak, or pow, is a Chinese steamed bun filled with meat, vegetables, or a combination of the two. There are two main kinds of bao served in China and Indonesia. The first is dabao, a big steamed bun that is portable and perfect for eating on the go, and the second is xiaobao, a smaller bun akin to a soup dumpling that is eaten at restaurants. Bao is often eaten for breakfast, but can be consumed at any time of day.
Steamed pork buns are by and large the most popular variety of bao, but are tricky to come by in the Twin Cities. With a little digging and determination, we've found a few spots to satisfy your craving.
Your first stop should be Keefer Court Bakery & Cafe on Cedar Avenue on the West Bank. Their pork buns are by and large the most popular in the Twin Cities and one of the most popular items at the store. Folks travel long distances to sink their teeth into Keefer's $1.50 steamed BBQ pork buns, which employees heat up on the spot.
Tea House on University offers pork buns, mini pork juicy buns, and pan-fried pork buns. They're not necessarily the crowd favorite, but it's a good option if you're in the neighborhood.
Lastly, Pho Tao Bay in the Whittier neighborhood serves banh bao, the Vietnamese variety of steamed buns, for $3.50. Be sure to slurp up some pho while you're there!Got a question for Hot Dish? Email us!