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Spotlight: New Restaurant Built Around The Big Bao Trend

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Bao are big. They’re suddenly everywhere. Well, OK, that’s an exaggeration, but they’re showing up on enough menus to declare them an honest-to-Buddha trend.

So what is a bao? To put it simplistically, steamed dough filled with meat or vegetables. It may be in the form of a bun with the fillings hidden inside, or flattened and folded so that it resembles a puffy taco shell. It’s basically white bread dough, steamed instead of baked, so there is no browned crust, and the texture is doughier and moist.

Greg Richie, who also oversees last year’s restaurant sensation Soco, built his new restaurant around the little treats and named it Baoery.

I had the Twin Dragons bao, which features a version of the Korean Fried Chicken that Richie serves at Soco, except without the bones. The two pieces, served in a small bamboo steamer, were stuffed with the crispy bits of chicken, which weren’t too terribly spicy, and some cool slices of radish and cucumber.

On another visit I had the Jade Emperor, which had roasted pork belly in the buns with a barbecue hoisin sauce and a bit of kimchi. The kimchi could have fermented a bit longer, but I enjoyed this one the most.

I also tried the Pork Belly Ramen, which had noodles in an evenly seasoned broth with a soft-boiled egg, carrots and scallions, and fresh herbs. A little pulled pork supplemented the delightfully fatty belly meat.

Baoery takes over the former Cityfish space. Renovations included moving the bar, which had been located along one full wall, to the middle of the room, a good decision. There is a startlingly large wall mural of a statue of Buddha inside the front door. At first it appeared that Buddha has a pierced eyebrow, but it turned out to be an unfortunately situated emergency light.

Baoery, with a casual vibe and approachable prices (nothing on the menu is over $15) will appeal to a younger crowd that likes to eat out often without breaking the bank or sacrificing the quality of food to do so.

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