Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Philly Foods: Char Siu Bao

Oh, char siu bao! What a food! This is the fabulous, delicious, probably really unhealthy, pork bun. It's pronounced kind of, kind of like Chaucer (as in Canterbury Tales) with a New England accent, i.e Chauceh, and the bao is pronounced bow. Congratulations, you've just learned a pretty tonally inaccurate
Cantonese phrase.

Anywho, bao are a sweet, eggy, white bun filled with chunks of barbequed pork, barbeque sauce, and onions, and then painted with more egg for that perfect glaze. Best part is that for the often (especially in Chinatowns) bao are cheap. I've found two bakeries (which are basically right next door two each other) which both make really good bao.
  • Mong Kok Station Bakery: 153 N 10th St in Chinatown. Huge bao, pictured. Very sweet. 80 cents. You want to get there decently early because they do sell out. The bakery in general has great food and nice people. The decor is also pretty fun.
  • Lhong Ghang Bakery: 127 N 10th Street in Chinatown. Smaller bao and not as sweet (sorry no picture, I was really hungry), but has huge chunks of pork, which the Mong Kok ones do not. These are only 70 cents. Once again nice food and people. I would also recommend their egg custard cake which is a thick yellow egg custard in a pan fried mochi; really yum.
If I stumble upon better bao than these, I will let you know. I realize most of you aren't actually Philly-dwellers, so I'll be sure to get a recipe up this week, too. However, if you happen upon some no matter where you are, for the most part they're pretty good. Some bakeries will use pork fat chunks instead of actual pork, avoid these! That is not what bao should be.

So, go, explore, omnom.


  1. Sounds very delicious. I've only been to Philly once, on a historical tour 3 years ago, and you make it seem like a fun place to live (even if you have to live there because of college).

  2. Ohhh I've never had the Philly variety, but these types of pork buns have always been my favorite snack! We have a family recipie for the Hawaiian kind (Manapua) if you want me to dig it up!

    Also, just for your info, in Japanese, they are called Nico Man, and in Korean, they are Man Du!

  3. @Moxie, Philly has historical tours?! I'm not that up to date on that kind of thing, but I may just have to look into it. If there's any kind of a semblance of a Catonese community where you are, I'll bet there will also be bao

    @Plunk! Manapua sounds good, I would love a recipe!! E-mail at miniandmicro@gmail.com or whatever's easier for you <3 And how in the world did you learn the Japanese and Korean names? That's awesome!

  4. I have been craving these for years, I had some in high school because one of my teachers made them for a cultural day. They were delicious.

    Also, thank you for the comment on my blog, your blog always makes me hungry. :)

  5. @Chris,

    My mommy and daddy were in Korea in the Peace Corps, and my dad fell in love with the country :-D He's fluent in Korean, and took my brother and I to Japan and Korea for two weeks two summers ago. It was the best trip I've ever taken.

  6. Mmm yum :) Wish you had used the pinyin name instead of "char siu" though :P I've had the ones from Maria's in Annandale a number of times...more expensive around DC though since there's less competition...or maybe just NoVA.

  7. @wyang, these were sooo much better than Maria's, I kid you not.