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Momofuku Nationwide Shipping

Our kits, which are accessible on Goldbelly and are used by our restaurant teams at home, are available throughout the country. A complete set of instructions for preparing the dishes and arranging your dinner are supplied. ORDER A 12-PACK OF PORK BUNS Pork Buns have been a staple of our menu from the day we first opened our doors in 2004. It has stayed unchanged since then: a straightforward combination of roasted pork belly, hoisin sauce, mildly pickled cucumbers, and scallions in a steamed bun with scallions on top.

  • All that’s left to do is fry the sliced pork belly in a skillet and put the steamed buns on top of the meat.
  • ORDER A 12-PACK OF SHIITAKE BUNS Shiitake Buns have also been a staple of the menu from the day we first opened our doors back in 2004.
  • The shiitake mushrooms are thinly sliced and marinated in soy sauce, giving them a rich umami flavor.
  • Order your WHOLE PLATE SHORT RIB right now!
  • It is served with kimchi made from Napa cabbage, soy pickled daikon and jalapenos, horseradish, sauces, and a beef fried rice kit, among other things.
  • KO EGGCAVIAR |PURCHASE RIGHT NOW The Ko Egg is one of the most well-known dishes from Momofuku Ko, yet it is also one of the most difficult to replicate.
  • All that is required is the availability of eggs.
  • The Ko Foie Gras is another another legendary dish from Momofuku Ko’s repertoire.
  • All that is required is that you freeze the foie gras and then be prepared to grate it when it is ready.
  • It also includes an umami-rich sauce made from black beans, butter, and Normandy cider vinegar, which is served alongside the dish.
  • AVAILABLE FOR ORDER NOW The duck pie from Momofuku Ko’s restaurant is included in the collection, as is the pecan pie, which has a whole wheat crust and is filled with crushed pecans, brown butter, and Tahitian vanilla.

In keeping with Momofuku Ko’s philosophy of straddling the sweet and savory spectrum, the pie is finished with a pinch of French sea salt.

O’Tasty Foods Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (2 lb. 4 oz., 12 ct.)

  • Steamed buns loaded with sweet and savory cha siu pork
  • A delectable Asian-style treat. Also referred to as quot
  • Cha siu bao quot
  • . Completely prepared and simple to make
  • Already steamed, so all you have to do is microwave it
  • Food that is authentically Chinese
  • Steamed buns loaded with sweet and savory cha siu pork
  • A delectable Asian-style treat. Known as “cha siu bao” in some circles. Completely prepared and simple to make
  • Already steamed, so all you have to do is microwave it
  • Food that is authentically Chinese


These completely cooked, steamed BBQ pork buns will provide you with a genuine taste of Asian food. These buns, which are also known as “cha siu bao,” have traditionally been savored in China as part of the meal known as dim sum. These steamed BBQ pork buns would be delicious as a snack, appetizer, or main course. To prepare it, all you need to do is heat it up in a microwave or steam cooker, and you’ll be done in no time.


  • MSG-free
  • Comes in a 12-bun container. Serving a fast and healthful snack or supper was the goal
  • Keep the ice cubes cold.


Member Satisfaction Guaranteed: This product is protected by the Sam’s Club Member Satisfaction Guarantee.

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Steamed Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao) Recipe



  • The first step in preparing the filling is to rub five-spice powder evenly over the pork shoulder. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Cooking spray should be used to coat the pan. Cook the pork for 18 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 155°, flipping the meat once or twice throughout cooking. Remove the pork from the pan and set it aside for 15 minutes. Advertisement
  • Step 2: Slice the pork crosswise into thin slices, then cut the sections into strips. Pork should be placed in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the onions and the next 7 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt) until everything is well-combined. Refrigerate after covering with plastic wrap. 3. To prepare the dough, in a large mixing basin, add 1 cup warm water, the sugar, and the yeast
  • Let aside for 5 minutes. In the fourth step, lightly scoop flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. To the yeast mixture, add the flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir until a soft dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press it down. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Toss the dough in a large mixing basin sprayed with cooking spray, stirring to cover the whole surface. Cover and set aside in a warm (85°) place that is free of drafts for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. (Apply gentle pressure to the dough with two fingers.) If the indentation is still there, the dough has risen sufficiently.) Step 5: Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes. Make a clean area for the dough to rest on and knead in the baking powder. After allowing dough to rest for 5 minutes, proceed to Step 6 and divide it into 10 equal sections, rolling each into a ball. Make 5-inch circles out of each dough ball, working with one at a time (covering the remaining dough balls to prevent them from drying out). 1/4 cup filling should be placed in the center of the dough circle. Bring the edges up to cover the filling and bring them together at the top. Twist the end of the pinch to seal it shut. To make more dough balls and filling, follow the same technique as described above. 7. Arrange 5 buns, seam side down, 1 inch apart, on each layer of a 2-tiered bamboo steamer, one bun in each tier of the steamer. Stack the layers and cover with the lid. Then fill a big pan half-full with water until the water is one inch deep
  • Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Place the steamer in the pan and steam for 15 minutes, or until the puff and set is achieved. Allow for 10 minutes of cooling time before serving.

Chef’s Notes

Red chili peppers, cilantro, or jalapenos can be used to increase the spiciness of the dish. Cucumbers, cut into little cubes, lend a refreshing crunch to this traditional Asian dish. Hint: The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t have to limit yourself to only using pork products. Make a vegetable, bean, or even seafood bun to go with it.

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: 259 calories; calories from fat 21 percent; fat 6.1 grams; saturated fat 0.9 grams; mono fat 3.2 grams; poly fat 1.5 grams; protein 14.3 grams; carbohydrates 35.7 grams; fiber 1.6 grams; cholesterol 27 milligrams; iron 2.9 milligrams; sodium 343 milligrams; calcium 54 milligrams;

Trader Joe’s Cha Siu Bao Chinese Style Pork Buns Review – Freezer Meal Frenzy

In the frozen section of the grocery store, we may come across an item and think to ourselves, “There’s no way this would ever turn out in a microwave.” As an example, we may point to the Trader Joe’s Cha Siu Bao Chinese Style Pork Buns as one of our favorites. It’s also important to acknowledge that we were completely mistaken – these small pork buns turn out to be rather delicious. There are two ways to fire up these bad boys right now. If you want to steam one, you may either wrap it in a moist paper towel and microwave it for 45 seconds, or you can use a steamer to do it.

  • Fortunately, the pork buns still turn out to be rather tasty when done this manner.
  • Normally, we’d expect a pork bun to be a touch sticky on the exterior, but these are far too doughy.
  • However, once you get to the pork, it doesn’t really matter since it is very delicious.
  • You’ll find that as the pork reaches your taste senses, all of your concerns will just melt away.
  • But, let’s be honest, as soon as we took our first bite, we knew we weren’t going to be able to stop ourselves at just one.
  • Of course, if you consume the entire bag, you would consume 640 calories and 480 mg of salt.
  • The Trader Joe’s Cha Siu Bao Chinese Style Pork Buns are an excellent option if you’re craving steaming pork buns but don’t have a lot of time to prepare them from scratch.
  • This is a really basic culinary dish, but it is also quite delicious.

Please see below for packaging scans of these Trader Joe’s frozen pork buns if you’d want to learn more about the nutrition content, ingredients, or cooking directions for these tasty treats.


The objective is straightforward: to provide customers with good, reasonably priced meals that they will want to come to week after week.

See also:  How To Make Burger Buns Without Yeast


This puff pastry puff is filled with famous Hong Kong style BBQ pork and is wrapped in a soft, delicate pastry.

BBQ Pork Bun

In this classic Asian dish, pork is mixed in tangy Asian BBQ sauce and stuffed inside a spherical bun to make a sandwich.


This delicious delight, made with sliced ham and white cheese that has been peppered, is great for a breakfast treat.


This polo is distinguished by its lattice-like shell and is filled with fluffy shredded pork floss, which results in a crisp, flavorful, and crispy melt-in-your-tongue feel that melts in your mouth.


This vegetarian delight is made out of sliced green onions that are sandwiched between two soft buns.

Curry Chicken Puff

In a light, flaky turnover-shaped pastry, a hearty chicken dish drenched in curry sauce is served.

Curry Chicken Bun

A spherical bread that conceals chicken breasts that have been cooked in a spicy curry sauce and dusted with wheat germ.


Our doughy, hand-rolled bread is stuffed with shredded cheddar cheese and pieces of smoked sausage.


This little, rectangular bun is topped with the crispy, melt-in-your-mouth feel of dry, shredded pig floss, which makes it a delicious snack. The light buttery flavor of the bun, along with the crunch of the pork floss, creates a delectable savory snack.


Our ode to the All-American classic features bits of hotdog and sliced green onions baked within a soft bun, just like the original.

Black Pepper Chicken Puff

This pastry is made up of tender black pepper chicken that is wrapped in a light, flaky puff pastry and dusted with almond flakes on top before being baked.


When you bite into the bread, can you envision the taste of the melting cheese that will greet you? When serving hot, reheat in the microwave, toaster oven, or oven for the most authentic melting sensation you can have!


Garlic bread dough is molded into a beautiful pattern and then sprinkled with cheese to make this delicious, vegetarian delicacy.


This roll is loaded with bits of shredded pork floss and completed with green onions and sesame seeds, resulting in a deliciously flavorful experience!


It’s a rather straightforward loaf of bread. Sweet corn kernels and ham slices are used to garnish this doughy, hand-prepared bread, which is lavishly dusted with chopped parsley before baking.

Where to Find Steamed Buns or “Bao” in Buffalo

Dobutsu provided the photograph. When I bit into the pillowy soft, warm white bun, which was loaded with flavorful pork, I was overcome with an unexpected sense of joy. It was the first time I had ever tasted steamed buns in my life, and it was delicious. I had the experience at Home Taste restaurant, a small hole in the wall in Kenmore that served wonderful Chinese food. The bun appeared to be the Chinese counterpart of a hamburger in the United States. It contained both the bread and the meat components.

  • It had been cooked to the right tenderness, and the warm bread had completely encircled the flavor-filled meat that was hidden inside.
  • This is a staple cuisine in northern China, and it is quite tasty.
  • This all-in-one supper is perfect for sharing with friends or devouring by yourself if you’re feeling particularly peckish.
  • In the years since, I’ve been to Home Taste several times for their enormous pork steamed buns (as well as their delectable dumplings!) Despite this, Home Taste is far from the only location in the Queen City where you can get your hands on the steamy, bready bliss that is steamed buns.

Here are a few spots where you can get some truly amazing bao:

Did we miss one? Did one of these places close? Send us a note!

More information is available at 3106 Delaware Ave., Kenmore (716-322-0088). Steamed buns are available from Home Taste in a variety of flavors. The first dish on the menu is the most traditional, consisting of minced pig filling and mashed potatoes. You can also get it with minced vegetables if you prefer. Remember that the buns are enormous, and an order of four might easily be shared among a group of people, especially if additional food is being ordered as well as the buns.


More information can be obtained at 500 Seneca St., Suite 119, Buffalo (716-322-6004). Steamed buns are available on Dobutsu’s “Snacks” section of the menu, with a range of options available depending on the day of the week. They are priced on a daily basis.

3.007 Chinese Food

For further information, call 716-322-6004 or visit 500 Seneca St., Suite 119, Buffalo. When it comes to snacks, Dobutsu has a range of options available on its “Snacks” section of the menu, which changes daily. Price changes on a daily basis.

4.SATO Brewpub

More information is available at 110 Pearl St., Buffalo (716-248-1436). The small plates menu at SATO Brewpub includes a stout-braid BBQ, pork, cucumber, and kimchi steamed bun ($3.5), among other items.

5.Falley Allen

For further information, call (716-464-3903) or visit 204 Allen St. in Buffalo. Falley Allen adds a crunchy texture to the conventional steamed bun, giving it a unique flavor. Crispy bao buns with kimchi, siracha mayo, pickled jalapenos, and cilantro are available, as is a selection of pickled veggies to accompany them. The short ribs or salt and pepper shrimp are two options for this dish. ADVERTISEMENT

6.Pho Lantern Restaurant

More Information: 837 Niagara St Buffalo, NY 14213/ 716-240-9680 /Additional Information Add a side order of buns to any meal to make it more complete.

7.Tasty Time Café

More Information: 3143 W State St, Olean, NY 14760 / 716-379-8476 / More Information It may be well-known for its frozen yogurt, but don’t be fooled by its appearance. They also have steamed buns and poke bowls to choose from!

Did we miss one? Did one of these places close? Send us a note!

This item was initially published in 2019 and has been modified to reflect current information.

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It’s everything you could want from a char siu bao: fluffy steamed buns filled with a savory, slightly sweet, and oozing char siu pork filling. It brings back memories of my father purchasing these little pieces of heaven for me as a kid, along with the Filipino version, siopao asado. Although these steamed pork buns are a popular dim sum dish, they are also wonderful for cooking ahead of time and freezing them to reheat when you need a quick snack on the run. Using this recipe, you will be able to make this at home with step-by-step directions.

Making the dough

Char siu bao is a sort of baozi (which are filled buns) that is steamed and has a fluffy and soft white outer layer that is topped with shredded pork and vegetables. Its dough is remarkably similar to the dough used to make steamed bao buns (). (or lotus leaf buns). Baozi should not be confused with mantou, which are steamed buns that do not contain any filling. This bao wrapper is the first stage in the process of making these wonderful buns. Before you begin, sift the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking powder together to ensure that there are no lumps in the dough when it is time to form the dough.

  • Mix on low speed until the dough comes together.
  • Follow this procedure from King Arthur Flour to determine whether your yeast is still good.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and continue mixing until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the edges of the bowl.
  • To adjust the consistency of your dough if it is too moist and not drawing into a round form in the mixer, add one tablespoon of all-purpose flour at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Lightly lubricate the inside of the mixing bowl with approximately one teaspoon of neutral oil to prevent the dough from sticking, then return the dough to the bowl and cover with a moist cloth to keep it from drying out.

Place the dough to prove for at least two hours near a warm (at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit) windowsill.

How to make the char siu filling

To begin making the char siu filling, you must first obtain char siu, which is Chinese roasted pork that can be found at your local Chinese restaurant or even at your local grocery store. This dish calls for homemade char siu, which we cooked from scratch using my recipe. Making the filler is quite simple! Using a sharp knife, cut yourchar siuin into little pieces, about three millimeter cubes in size per piece. To make the sauce, mix the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, five-spice powder (optional), garlic, and sesame oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer for approximately two minutes, or until the sauce has the consistency of light honey.

It is important to note that this filling should not be overly liquidy.

You should refrigerate the sauce before mixing it into the dough because if it is not chilled sufficiently, you will end up with a sticky muddle of sauce and dough.

How to assemble and wrap the buns

Now that you have your sweet char siu filling, you may finish assembling your buns and serve them! If you proof your dough for two hours, it should be at least double the size it was when you started. Remove the dough from the bowl and lay it on a floured surface to rest. Knead your dough for around one minute with the heel of your hand until it is smooth, form it into a circle, and then weigh your dough to ensure it is accurate. I prefer to weigh my dough and divide it by 24 to ensure that each piece is cut and shaped properly.

  1. Form the dough into a three-inch-thick log with your hands using your hands only.
  2. Take one piece of dough and roll it out into a circle about three inches in diameter on a floured surface, using a rolling pin as needed.
  3. The narrow borders aid in the pleating of the bao, resulting in an uniform quantity of dough above and below the filling in both directions.
  4. Even though there are many various methods to fold your bao, I prefer to create a swirl on the top since it is more visually appealing!
  5. Spread about two tablespoons of char siu filling in the center of the wrapper in the palm of your non-dominant hand (mine is my left).
  6. This should begin to take on the appearance of pleating around the filling.
  7. You will continue to pleat your dough in a circle until you reach your first fold.

Repeat the process with the remaining baos. Once you’ve finished wrapping all of your baos, cover them with a damp towel and set them aside for another ten to fifteen minutes to proof. You’ll notice that your baos are much plumper after doing this!

How to steam the buns

To prevent the bao from sticking to the steamer and becoming destroyed, line the steamer with parchment paper or even lettuce. Make a well in the center of your pot and fill it with approximately one and a half inches of water (you don’t want the water to come into contact with your steamer). Place your steamer on top to warm the steamer before placing in your bao. The following are the steps to take when steaming your bao:

  • Preheat your steamer in order to achieve the proper cooking timing. In each session, I cook the bao for around 10 minutes, resulting in fluffy and soft bao. Make sure to allow enough of space between each bao because they will expand a little when cooking in the steamer. The distance between each bao is approximately one inch. Check the water level in your pot while it steams, and be prepared to add more if the level reduces. You don’t want to lose steam while cooking, so be prepared to add more if the level drops. It’s also a good idea to avoid using a nonstick pot in case the heat is lost and the coating on your pan is damaged. Although it may be tempting, refrain from opening the cover while the bao is being cooked. This might alter the way the buns cook, causing you to lose steam in the process.
See also:  What Are The Best Hot Dog Buns

Servings and freezing

Serve these little beauties as soon as possible to ensure that you receive a generous serving of fluffy bliss from them. If you happen to have any leftovers, I recommend freezing them in an airtight container and storing them for later use. Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and xiao long bao are some of my favorite dim sum sides to pair with bao, including chicken feet, cheung fun, shumai, egg tarts, and Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce.

How do you reheat steamed pork buns?

Using a paper towel that is almost damp but not dripping, wrap the steamed pork buns in the towel to reheat them quickly. Using 30-second intervals, microwave the pork buns until they are warm and soft. The towel simulates a similar steaming procedure used in the microwave, and it should help to moisten the chilly and dry surface of the bun.


Here are some char siu bao-making suggestions I’ve picked up along the way to assist you:

  • Make care to knead the dough until it is smooth and flexible before putting it in the refrigerator to proof. While the dough should be tacky, it should not be sticky or too moist to the touch as you work with it. Your bao will come out lumpy and not as fluffy if you don’t knead the dough enough before steaming. Despite the fact that adding vegetable oil appears strange, I discovered that it assisted in making my dough really plump and fluffy. This is an important step that should not be skipped. Weighing and measuring each piece of dough is beneficial since it allows you to ensure that all of your baos are the same size. After cutting the dough into pieces for wrapping, keep them covered with a cloth to prevent them from drying out while I am wrapping the bao
  • Don’t wait too long after you’ve made your dough and proofed it before you start making your bao. Because it contains active yeast, your dough will continue to prove while it rests. When you steam your dough, the texture of the dough may be altered as a result of this. Proofing the bao for a second time after wrapping them was quite beneficial in plumping up my bao. This is a step that I strongly encourage. The bao did not get as fluffy when I missed the proofing step.


  • 100g (12 12 tbsp)cornstarch
  • 10g (2tsp)baking powder
  • 6g (2tsp)instant active yeast
  • 100g (12c)sugar
  • 9fl oz(18tbsp)water
  • 2fl oz(2tbsp)vegetable oilplus a little more for greasing the mixing bowl


  • A pound of char siu sliced into tiny pieces
  • 1fl oz(2tbsp)oyster sauce
  • 12fl oz(1tbsp)light soy sauce
  • 12fl oz(1tbsp)dark soy sauce
  • 16g (4tsp)sugar
  • .25g(1tsp)five spice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2tsp sesame oil
  • .67g


  • Cornstarch, baking powder, and flour should be combined before being added to a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Turn the mixer to the stir setting and add the sugar and instant active yeast. Reduce the speed of the stand mixer to low and gradually add the water and vegetable oil. Continue to mix the ingredients for approximately eight minutes, or until the dough is smooth and has been freed from the sides. The dough should be removed from the bowl and shaped into a ball. One teaspoon of neutral oil should be used to lightly lubricate the interior of the mixing bowl before re-incorporating the dough. Allow for at least two hours of proofing near a warm windowsill by covering it with a moist cloth.


  • Prepare your char siu by chopping it into little pieces around three millimeters in size. In a large saucepan, combine the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, five spice, garlic, and sesame oil, stirring constantly until everything is well combined. Cook this on a medium-high heat until it is done. In a small dish, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth, then pour into the pot. Cook for another two minutes or until the consistency is comparable to molasses after bringing the mixture to a boil and then lowering the heat to medium. Cook the char siu pieces for an additional minute after adding them to the skillet. Taking the char siu filling off the burner and allowing it to cool on the counter is recommended.

Assembly and steaming

  • You should have twice the size of your dough after two hours of proving. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and lightly knead the dough with the heel of your hand for about one minute, or until it is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball. Weigh the dough and divide the weight by 16. For our dough, we had an average of 60-62 grams each piece, so we divided the weight by 16. Form the dough into a log and cut it into pieces with a knife, weighing each piece to ensure that they are all about the same weight
  • Shape the dough into a log and use a knife to cut pieces of dough
  • Take one piece and roll it out into a circle with a rolling pin until it is three inches in diameter. If necessary, dust the surface with flour to keep it from sticking. Then, using your rolling pin, thin out the edges of the circle while maintaining the same thickness in the middle section of the circle Your dough should be approximately 3 12 to 4 inches in diameter at this point. To assemble the circle, place two teaspoons of char siu filling in the center
  • Wrapper filled with meat should be held in non-dominant hand while folding it up. Take your thumb and pointer finger from your dominant hand and begin to fold the edges of the meat around the meat with your dominant hand. This should have the appearance of pleating. My preferred method of guiding additional dough into the pleating is to use the pointer and index finger of my non-dominant hand. Continue to pleat in a circle until you reach the first pleat, at which point you should pinch the entire top together. The top of the bao should be decorated with a swirl motif. Repeat the process with the remaining baos. Previously steaming the bao, cover it with the same moist towel that you used before and proof it for another ten to fifteen minutes before steaming. Prepare your steamer by lining it with parchment paper or lettuce
  • Fill your pot with about one and a half inches of water, but not so much that it touches the bottom of your steamer. Pre-heat your steamer for roughly two minutes before adding the bao to the pot. Toss your bao into the steamer, making sure to leave enough space between each bao. Steam the bao for approximately 10 minutes, without removing the lid, and then serve immediately. As soon as they’re cooked, take the bao out of the steamer and serve them right away

Once the bao has been baked and cooled, place it in an airtight container and freeze it. Warm frozen bao by wrapping them in a moistened paper towel and putting them back in the freezer. Bao should be microwaved in 30-second increments until it is fluffy and heated. 226.9kcal|33.5g carbohydrates|9.7g protein|5.5g fat|3.3g saturated fat |17.9mg cholesterol |206.8mg sodium | 143.4mg potassium |0.9g fiber|4.3 g sugar|0.1 mg vitamin C | 43.9 mg calcium| 1.7 milligrams iron Course:Appetizer Cuisine:Chinese Steamed dumplings (char siu bao) are a kind of char siu bao.

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If you ask New Yorkers about pork buns, they might dispute about which restaurant, Ippudo or Momofuku, does them better than the other. They might also bring up the versions that were served at the recently closed Baohaus on occasion. People living outside of New York may recall the countless examples of this phenomenon that have popped up around the country, especially in fashionable Asian-themed restaurants. Due to the now-legendary origin tale of Momofuku’s pork buns, which was told by David Chang himself when he wrote about the meal in his cookbook, Momofuku, and the fact that his famous version is perhaps the one that started the pork bun craze, some may assume Chang originated the dish.

See also:  Where To Get Bao Buns

(In the United Kingdom, they are commonly referred to as “hirata buns,” after Masashi Hirata, the executive chef at Ippudo’s restaurant.) The fact that the majority of people believe pork buns are Korean in origin might be due to their having eaten bulgogi buns at Boka Restaurant in New York City.

But when you ask someone what gua bao is, they are more than likely to look at you with a blank expression.

It frustrates me, as a native-born Taiwanese American, to see how popularization of the pork bun has become divorced from understanding of the gua bao.

Considering that the American culinary landscape is increasingly incorporating food traditions from outside the West, and that diners are willing to try everything from Sichuan dry hot pot to Korean fine dining or Filipino kamayan, how is it possible that the pork bun has lost its Taiwanese identity?

It seems to me to be a metaphor for the ways in which Taiwan and its culture exist — or do not exist — in the American consciousness: misunderstood, if not outright overlooked.


When I was growing up, I spent my weekends in Flushing, New York, which at the time was home to a huge community of Taiwanese immigrants, including my grandparents. Almost every Saturday, after three hours of morning Chinese school, my parents would pick me and my brother up from school and take us to lunch before whisking us away to piano lessons. An establishment that served classic Taiwanese street food such as stinky tofu, oyster omelets, and oyster vermicelli was one of our regular stops.

In Taiwanese cuisine, the gua bao (sometimes referred to as the “Taiwanese hamburger” in the West, perhaps in an attempt to find a Western equivalent) consists primarily of five ingredients: red-braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens, peanut powder, and cilantro leaves, all of which are sandwiched between those signature white clamshell buns, also known as lotus leaf buns.

A good gua bao is juicy, filled with a variety of tastes and textures, and it is served hot.

gua bao was almost too indulgent and wonderful for my youthful self to eat in one sitting, and in fact, if memory serves me correctly, we always ordered only one serving and split it up into little chunks to share between the two of us.

My assumption was that she didn’t make gua bao because she thought the pork belly was too unhealthy (she substituted lean meat for fatty pork in another traditional Taiwanese dish, lu rou fan) and that it would take too long to braise properly; however, when I inquired, she stated that the steamed buns she could find were a tad too large in size, and that peanut powder, which every Taiwanese person would argue is essential to a In my childhood, as an American kid of Taiwanese, Shanghainese, and Ningbo origin, the hand-me-downs from my many cultures blended together and were not distinguished from one another.

On certain weekends, we ate Shanghainese wontons, while on others, we ate lu rou fan.

Although gua bao was unfamiliar to me, I recognized it as Taiwanese in the same way that I recognized oyster vermicelli as Taiwanese — because I tasted it in a place that was unmistakably Taiwanese.

It was one manner in which I came to understand this slice of my culture, and it was one way in which I gave that portion of my identity some definition.


According to Chang, who is Korean American, he has always been upfront about his lack of knowledge of gua bao at the time he developed his pork buns. According to him, the dish came about as a result of having leftover pork belly from his ramen that he needed to mix into something else, as he has stated multiple times. Chang was inspired by a Chinese restaurant that served its Peking duck in steamed clamshell buns; the resemblance to gua bao was entirely coincidental; the substitution of duck for roast pig belly was entirely intentional.

Huang, in his memoir Fresh Off the Boat, slammed Chang’s pork buns as a “bastardized version of gua bao” and portrayed Baohaus as a response to his enraged feelings toward Chang.

The connection between gua bao and pork bun was made openly at Huang’s for quite some time, and it was the only high-visibility restaurant to do so for quite some time.

In terms of appearance, Chairman Mao’s signature was the closest thing you could get to an official Chinese gua bao.

A “Great Culinary Leap Forward” was described by The Chairman on the West Coast, in allusion to the catastrophic Maoist campaign of the 1960s.) It was Huang who prompted Chang to deliver the closest thing to a mea culpa on the subject, including during a recent interview on Chang’s podcast, in which Chang admitted that he had never visited Taiwan at the time of the pork bun’s creation and that if he had known about the gua bao, he would not have created the dish as it exists, but instead would have created a more “respectful” tribute.

That’s all right.

It is just coincidental that he came upon something that looked so similar to a renowned Taiwanese cuisine that is deeply established in Taiwanese culture.

And so, would a white chef who earned a fortune from spicy fermented cabbage that he “accidentally” “created” be excused from responsibility if he didn’t disclose that he had in fact “invented” kimchi?


Interestingly, the origin of Chang’s pork bun is not unlike from the story of the gua bao, which is a Chinese dumpling. Taiwan is a tiny island that has been subjected to multiple enormous waves of migration and occupancy over the course of its historical development. There is a feeling of adaptability and invention in its cuisine, with food modified by migratory patterns with anything from beef noodle soup (brought over from Sichuan) to soup dumplings displaying these characteristics (originally Shanghainese).

  1. A simpler variation of gua bao is the kong bak pau (from southern Fujian), which is made out of solely braised pork belly and lettuce in a lotus bun.
  2. It’s unclear whether the Taiwanese additions of pickled greens, peanut powder, and cilantro came about as a result of some enterprising Fujianese immigrant’s invention or as a result of someone seeing this combination of flavors replicated elsewhere and deciding to give it a try.
  3. However, it is because of this invention that it is transformed from a Hokkien snack to a Taiwanese snack.
  4. According to the area, the dish consists of a baked flatbread filled with chopped, braised meat, which is usually pig but may also be beef or lamb.
  5. Others could argue that gua bao is a variation on the more traditional baozi — the round, white, steamed bun with a pork filling that legend has it was invented by Zhuge Liang, a renowned strategist from China’s Three Kingdoms period — rather than a new creation.
  6. A typical reason for this is that the overstuffed buns resemble overflowing purses, which symbolizes good prosperity for the next year.
  7. Another theory is that the gua bao’s alternate name — hu yao zhu, which translates as “tiger bites pig” since the bun has the appearance of a tiger mouth biting a chunk of pork — is a homophone for the Chinese phrase “holding onto good fortune” in Hokkien.

Whatever the origins of gua bao, it’s difficult to dispute that they remain a typical Taiwanese dish to this day.


My dissatisfaction with the widespread availability of pork buns — or rather, the widespread ignorance of the fact that they’re essentially gua bao — is entwined with how Americans tend to react to “new takes” on trendy foods, such as tacos or poke. I’m not completely opposed to experimenting with these foods provided it’s done in a responsible manner. But, at the very least, a large segment of the American population is aware of the cultures from which poke and tacos originate. Whatever your feelings about kimchi or gochujang on everything, as they are currently served, being appropriately respectful of Korean traditions, they have gained enough ground in American consciousness that you couldn’t introduce them as something entirely new.

At the same time, only a few contemporary restaurants in America serve proper traditional gua bao (though immigrant-owned Taiwanese restaurants have been serving them for decades), which means that a large portion of the general public may not have heard of them, or if they have, they may not even be aware that they are Taiwanese in origin.

(My own grandma, who was born in Taiwan, relocated to Flushing in the early 1960s.

Some of the blame may be attributed to the food media in the United States.

However, coverage of pork buns almost never seems to go beyond the Chang origin narrative; in fact, it is unusual to find an article that admits their resemblance to gua bao (steamed buns).

The modest recent spike of contemporary Taiwanese restaurants such as Win Son and Ho Foods (which, as far as I can tell, hasn’t changed this) makes me question if the current uptick will alter anything.

I believe that maintaining an American ignorance about gua bao, despite the widespread appeal of pork buns, is a missed chance to educate people about other cultures through food.

Gua bao and Taiwanese cuisine should be given its due if you’re going to discuss the excellence of the pork bun.

I simply hope that non-Taiwanese diners were able to recognize that lineage as well.

And it is from there that a deeper knowledge — maybe even a love — of Taiwan and its culture might develop.

She has had work published in The Atlantic, Eater, Longreads, Catapult, and other publications. In addition to her role as editor in chief atHyphenmagazine, she is now working on a novel. You may find her on Twitter and Instagram. FollowResy as well.

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