Biting into the pillowy soft, warm white bun, filled with savory pork, filled me with an unexpected happiness. It was the first time in my life I had tried steamed buns. It was at Home Taste restaurant, a little hole-in-the-wall spot in Kenmore with incredible Chinese food. The bun seemed like the Chinese equivalent of an American hamburger. It had the bread and meat component. The difference was that this heavenly bun was not baked. It was steamed into perfect softness, and the warm bread wrapped wholly around the flavor-filled meat hiding inside.
These steamed buns are called “Bao” in Chinese, although you probably already knew that after watching the Pixar short named “Bao.” This is a staple food in northern China. Although they’re traditionally filled with a pork mixture, the buns can be filled with savory or sweet foods. They’re a convenient, all-in-one meal, easy to split with friends or to eat all by your hungry self.
It was a few years ago that I first had steamed buns. I’ve returned to Home Taste many times since for those huge pork steamed buns (and also for their to-die-for dumplings!) But Home Taste is far from the only place in the Queen City to find the steamy, bready goodness that are steamed buns.
Here are some places to enjoy exceptional bao:
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1. Home Taste
3106 Delaware Ave., Kenmore / 716-322-0088 / More Info
Home Taste offers a couple types of steamed buns. The first on the menu is the most traditional, with minced pork stuffing. You can also order it with minced vegetables. It’s important to note that the buns are huge, and an order of four could easily be split among a group of people, especially if other food is being ordered.
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25 Grant St., Buffalo (in the West Side Bazaar) / 716-464-6389 / More Info
This husband and wife team sell steamed buns, among other offerings, from their eatery inside the West Side Bazaar. They offer buns filled with pork, and another kind filled with vegetables.
3. SATO Brewpub
110 Pearl St., Buffalo / 716-248-1436 / More Info
SATO Brewpub dishes a stout-braid barbecue, pork, cucumber and kimchi steamed bun ($3.5) on its small plates menu.
4. Falley Allen
204 Allen St., Buffalo / 716-464-3903 / More Info
Falley Allen switches up the traditional steamed bun by making it crispy. It offers “crispy bao buns” featuring kimchi, siracha mayo, pickled jalapeño and cilantro, with choice of pickled vegetables. You can get it with short rib or salt and pepper shrimp.
837 Niagara St Buffalo, NY 14213 / 716-240-9680 / More Info
Grab a side order of buns to add to any meal.
3143 W State St, Olean, NY 14760 / 716-379-8476 / More Info
It may be known for it’s frozen yogurt but, don’t let that fool you. They’ve got steamed buns and poke bowls as well!
This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated.