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Where can I find steamed Chinese buns?

Now that I discover May May bakery is closed, does anybody know where I can find those steamed Chinese buns -- like the ones Momofuku used for his pork buns? I've been making my own version and am devastated that the bakery closed down.

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  1. Mei Lai Wah at about 64 Bayard Street. No number on the front but it is diagonal from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory at # 65. They have the steamed BBQ pork buns and best baked BBQ pork buns at .75 each and a super deluxe bun stuffed with chicken and egg at $1.00.

    1 Reply
    1. re: scoopG

      Yes....Mei Lai Wah is THE BEST! The large buns are known as Cha Show Bao. This place has the very best steamed I've tried from all over the world. Baked is good too but easier to find good ones all over. I waited 45 mins in line last week. Afternoons are the height as people have them as a snack with coffee. And many come and order as many as 6 dozen to take out and they simply run out and you have to wait as they make more!

    2. If you mean just plain buns w/out stuffing, you can buy them frozen at most Chinese grocery stores. For example, Kam Man on Canal street. Also, I've seen them in many of the other Chinese bakeries packed in bags of 5 or 6. They're not flattened like the ones at Momofuku, but perhaps you could slice them open and stuff them that way.

      36 Replies
      1. re: chowmeow

        Thanks, I think I know what you're talking about -- but those buns are too fluffy for my purposes. I think it's the dairy that was in May May's buns that gave it a totally different texture.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          Just wanted to let you know that I was in C-town during the weekend and picked up some buns at the market on Hester and Elizabeth (Dynasty?). I tried two different brands -- one from the freezer and one in the refrigerated section. I tried them side by side tonight. The freezer one was actually closer to the original from May May but still not the same.

          They didn't have these at Kam Man for some reason.

          These buns will do for now but I am still on the hunt for those Momofuku-style buns.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            Sorry I haven't been to Momofuku so I don't know exactly what you are looking for. However, from the way you are describing the bun, it seems almost like a Chinese "Man-Tou" to me. (i.e. A steamed "bread" that has no filling.)

            I would have thought Kam Man would have it. You might have to search a few other grocery stores near Chinatown. One place I would recommend is "Deluxe Food Market" (Name "Der Chang" in Mandarin Chinese) at 79 Elizabeth Street. It's a big market that has multiple stalls selling meats, seafood, desserts, sushi, Chinese BBQ, etc. You might be able to find some steamed bun /bun-like items in the refrigerator /freezer section in the middle of the store (I vaguely remember seeing buns there but I am not 100% sure). This market has 2 entrances, one on Elizabeth Street and the other on Mott street so it occupies across a large area. You can check it out next time you are in Chinatown. Maybe they will have the buns you are looking for. Wish you good luck!

            1. re: bearmi

              Kam Man did have plain steamed buns. However, for the Momofuku style pork buns, I was looking for the steamed buns that have a pocket to put the filling in. I did find something close, but it was a bit too large and fluffy compared with what I used to get at May May.

              Here's a pic of momofuku's pork buns:

              1. re: Miss Needle

                What you're looking for is called "He2 Ye4 Bao1" (first word is more like HER without the R sound), and should be in the same section as the refrigerated sections of larger Chinese grocery stores, usually near the bean curd sections for some reason.

                He2 Ye4 Bao1 means Water Lily pad wrap. They are for wrapping peking duck, Honey ham, Taiwanese Hamburger.. and so forth. A regular Mantou (steamed bread) would be too tough and hard, not to mention too thick.

                1. re: HLing

                  I thought in Taiwan (and maybe in China too) it's popular to use Man-Tou to make sandwiches, in which the Mantou is sliced in the middle and filled with eggs or other items.

                  I understand He Ye Bao is something different but Mantou Hamburgers/Sandwiches are not unheard of in Taiwan.
                  I have not eaten at Momofuku so I have not seen their "Pork Bun" until Ms Needle posted the photo. For the longest time, I kept thinking it's a Cantonese BBQ Pork Bun we see at Dim Sum restaurants. Guess I need to get out more.. haha.

                  Check out these links.... I hope you can see photos.. (sometimes wretch.cc doesn't load) .. This kind of illustrates how I had initially (and incorrectly) envisioned the "pork bun" Ms Needle was talking about,,,






                  1. re: bearmi

                    Mantou are really a northern Chinese bing - I know they are found in Taiwan but the Taiwanese have discovered the merits of white bread and numerous ma-pa breakfast spots in Taipei use white bread for their delicious western style breakfast sandwiches (i.e. fried egg with ham and cucumber.) Tai Hong Lau at 70 Mott Street serves a type of mantou (vaguely!) for their Peking Duck which I don't recommend. Miss Needle, is that pork at Momofuko delicious? It looks like too much meat for too little bun!

                    1. re: bearmi

                      Bearmi, In Taiwan or not, we use all kinds of "bread" for sandwiches, just as in the US you have sandwiches made with bread from the soft and fluffy Wonder Bread to the chewy (we hope) bagel. There really isn't a rule somewhere saying that Mantou has to be the sole bread for anything Chinese, or in China, or in Taiwan....what have you.

                      In a pinch, Wonder Bread with the crust cut off are used for dishes like honey glazed ham because the texture is better for it. I had this long ago in a Chinese restaurant somewhere in New Jersey.

                      The term "Taiwanese Hamburger" is really not a good description (but some of the restaurants here in the US uses it on their menu), because it's with Pork Belly, not beef. Like Bigjeff and Lau were saying, they are called "Gua Bao" in Taiwanese. Other than that, yes, there are all sorts of western style eats (like Hamburgers) co-existing peacefully with the Chinese snacks in Taiwan.

                      1. re: HLing

                        I totally understand that Mantou is not the only "bread" that can be used to make a "sandwich". In fact, being Taiwanese, the first thing I though of was a "Gua Bao" when Ms Needle was looking for "buns". However, I didn't think Momofuku would be serving something like that because I have never been there (pardon my ignorance) so I asked her if "mantou" is what she was looking for.

                        What I was trying to say is that it is "possible" to make a sandwich out of Mantou. You have previously stated that "A regular Mantou (steamed bread) would be too tough and hard, not to mention too thick.". I had interpreted it as you not believing it's possible to make sandwiches out of "mantou" so I was tried show you a few pics. (Maybe I misunderstood you in this case!) However, like you have said, Wonder Bread, He Ye Bao/Gua Bao, Shao Bing, etc.. or even rice ("Rice Burgers" from MOS Burger). can all be used to make "sandwiches" in one form or another. You were 100% right with that one!

                        1. re: bearmi

                          Actually, the dish Momofuku serves is a Gua Bao, though they call it something else.

                          1. re: chowmeow

                            Yes I know. From the various postings above I gathered it is a Gua Bao. I was trying to explain my incorrect thought process of concluding that it's a Mantou. It's good that I learnd that it's a Gua Bao/He Ye Bao served at Momofuku. I probably won't be going there any time soon but at least I know they are been innovative!

                    2. re: HLing

                      mmmmm, taiwanese hamburger . . . . . they also call those breads "gua-bao", right?

                      and incidentally, I had a tong-po pork once (shanghainese restaurant in edison, NJ) that served, instead of a fluffy bun, more like miniature pocket "sau-bing" (sesame-studded flaky pastry that usually encloses you-tiao for the ultimate fried carbo-bomb) with an open top, and we scooped the meat into these deliciously crusty pockets. so friggin' good. anyone know of a place that serves that? I think this place has closed already.

                      1. re: bigjeff

                        well the "taiwanese hamburger" itself is called gua bao...i posted once trying to find it in flushing, but the only place that served it that i know of no longer does (it was one of the stands in the flushing mall)

                        as far as one serving it in a shao bing, i haven't seen that here (although plenty of places serve shao bing)

                        1. re: Lau

                          Red Chopstick in Flushing does decent version of gua bao but their stink tofu is what i go for there -- totally the best in nyc.

                          1. re: wadawada

                            ohh interesting, ill have to try it, thx for the rec (gua bao is my all time favorite taiwanese street food and chou dofu is up there as well)

                          2. re: Lau

                            Oh no! I'm sad that the Flushing Mall stand doesn't serve it any more! From another CH thread, I learned about a place called Province (iirc) which is on Church St. south of Canal. They serve "sandwiches" on steamed buns. The pork one is a gua bao, or very close to one, and is delicious.

                            1. re: chowmeow

                              province is terrible and their gua bao isnt even close to a real gua bao, the bread is all wrong and the pork isnt even close...momofuku is closer to the real thing, but still lacking

                              1. re: Lau

                                I agree on Province. Went WAY downhill and really sucks now.

                                >momofuku is closer to the real thing, but still lacking

                                in what sense?

                                1. re: kobetobiko

                                  i guess im being a bit of a snob bc i havent had one done correctly in NY. I think momofuku's is good and very tasty, but its just different than the real thing.

                                  If you go to a good street vendor in taiwan, its just awesome, the bread is so soft, the pork is unbelievably tender and had this great flavor b/c i think its been simmered in some type of soy based sauce for a while, pickled vegetables have such great flavor and they top it off with this sugar powder stuff although i always tell them to go light on it bc it can make it too sweet. In fact, the really good vendors allow to choose how fatty you want the pork.

                          3. re: bigjeff

                            You mean like the breakfast shao bing filled with sliced aromatic beef, but instead with fatty pork? That sounds good, too. With Tong-Po pork though, I tend to want something less greasy to offset the fat and sauce.

                            Too bad the good places always seem to close before we're ready. "only the good die young" , they say :)

                            1. re: bigjeff

                              I don't think shao bing are supposed to be used for tong-po pork! It was probably the restaurant's own take of serving it that way. Authentic tong-po pork is not be served shao bing.

                              In Peking / Shanghaiese restaurant, shao bing are usually served with a plate of stir fry meat - usually pickled mustard green and pork (or beef sometimes), in small dices or juliennes.

                              1. re: kobetobiko

                                ya I can't attest to the authenticity of serving shaobing like that because I'd never seen it before, and I haven't seen it since, but it was the most delicious tongpo pork I ever had. nothing like a sandwich but really, like a pocket, with the shao-bing crisp as can be, seemingly glazed from both the inside and out. I found my old review (11/7/2003) which incidentally, received some backlash because subsequent visits by other CHers weren't as great as mine; the folks I was dining with were in the chinese restaurant business so we really had a first-class "hooked-up" meal.


                            2. re: HLing

                              Thanks, HLing! I'll be in Flushing this weekend (due to the free LIRR service) and will look at some of the larger markets like Hong Kong Supermarket. Hong Kong in Manhattan is really terrible.

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                btw did you try Dynasty supermarket? i could've sworn ive seen them there

                                1. re: Lau

                                  That's where I got my substitutes. They're OK, but about twice the size and a bit thicker than the ones I'm looking for. Good, but no cigar. I know I'm being a bit fastidious trying to get that elusive bun!

                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                  If you saw some in Dynasty and it was not great, I'm not sure you'll have better luck in Flushing, although, you never know. I don't go to Hong Kong from either Chinatown. Usually I got to the one On Kissena blvd, behind and across the street from the library. I'm not sure of the name, but it's pretty big and inclusive.

                                  Also, like the other says, check out different bakeries. Besides the all-borough Taipan, in Flushing there's also Maxim's on 40 rd btw Prince and Main, and then 3 or 4 bakeries on the same block on Roosevelt btw Main and Prince. All of which are not part of a chain, I don't think.

                                  Good luck to you and enjoy!

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    I was in Hong Kong Flushing over the weekend. Unfortunately what I found there was similar to what I got at Dynasty. My quest continues.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      Miss Needle - next time you are in Chinatown, check out the plain steamed buns (Mantou) at the Good Dumpling House (formerly Sundou) at 214-216 Grand. 8 in a package for $2.50. While they do not look like the ones at Momofuko, they might serve your purpose. The are more recangular in shape than round. Also, I am sure they are not made with any dairy. As you enter Good Dumpling, to your left is a large take-out area. That's where they are.

                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          Miss Needle, I just saw a brand new batch of Chinese steamed goods at New Kam Man, 200 Canal, including what you're looking for, the He Ye Bao, which is written as such in Chinese, but only "Folded Buns" in English. Go straight to the back and you'll see it: clear plastic bag with bright green color on the front for this particular kind. Other colors for other types of steamed goods, including mini mantou, ones made with milk added, as well as egg added. It's a whole line of goods from Lahambra, California's DK Bakery.

                                          Whether it's good or not you'll have to let us know, but I'm assuming that you will resteam it before eating so that it will be softened.

                                          1. re: HLing

                                            Thanks HLing! Didn't see this post until now. I will give it a shot.

                                3. re: Miss Needle

                                  Ah.. I see the photo now... I walk by Momofuku all the time but I still haven't been inside... should have done it then I would know exactly what you are talking about. If I see this "He Ye Bao" around in Chinatown, I will let you know. I suspect it's possible that Momofuku gets their buns from some special bakery or perhaps they make their own... I agree with you that store bought ones might be too fluffy /wet /soft.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    Miss Needle, why don't you ask Momofuku where it gets its buns? When I was there last year and asked if the buns were made on premise, I was told "no."

                                    1. re: gloriousfood

                                      I guess I could try that. Sometimes restaurants are hesitant to let their customers know this information.

                                      1. re: gloriousfood

                                        The GQ story on David Chang says "a commercial Chinese bakery makes the buns" BTW.

                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          Yeah, DH subscribes to GQ. I always thought it was May May bakery. Guess I was wrong.

                              1. Wu Liang Ye makes my favorite mini-pork buns. They're fantastic. (Not sure how they compare to Momofuku's, as I've not had their version)


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: LeahBaila

                                  yeah grand sichuan on st marks serves them with their cumin lamb and i always get extra ones, but i always referred to them as "man tou", but my chinese is pretty bad, so i defer to Hling

                                2. Good news! I was at Deluxe Food Market yesterday and saw the "He Yeh Bao" ( "荷葉包" in Chinese). Unfortunately, they are only labeled in Chinese (i.e. as "荷葉包") so there is no English label next to them. But I am sure if you don't know Chinese you can just point at them and the clerk can get them for you. I didn't eat any of the buns so I don't know what the quality is like. The buns were stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator, along with other Chinese buns and steamed cakes, etc. Again, Deluxe Food Market is called "Der Chang" in Mandarin Chinese and the location is at 79 Elizabeth Street (The "Chinese Bun" stall is the first stall on your right if you enter through Elizabeth Street entrance). Hope you will find them ok (or maybe you already have! :)

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: bearmi

                                    Thank you, bearmi! I'll check it out soon!

                                    1. re: bearmi

                                      I just found this thread, eagerly read through the drama of the he ye bao quest, and am so happy that Deluxe Food Market came through--it's one of the main reasons I'm still a big supporter of Manhattan's Chinatown. In fact, I've never even bought frozen dumplings from a dumpling-specific vendor because Deluxe Food Market's are so good.

                                      1. re: bearmi

                                        I was just at this market and also saw the bag of folded style mantou buns in the display case. (Elizabeth Street entrance, immediate right hand side). The receipt for my purchase lists the name "DELUXE MEAT MARKET INC." 81 Elizabeth Street, NY, NY 10013. There's a phone number, but as it is an all Asian staff, there may be a language barrier with no guarantee that they'll be able to interact over the phone. 212-925-5766

                                      2. Curious to know whether anyone has tried roast pork buns at Dragon Land Bakery (across the street from Sun Say Kai) or Hon Cafe (70 Mott St, kind of kitty-corner from the Fay Da on Mott)? I'm not even sure whether either place carries the steamed roast pork buns. But Dragon Land is always busy when I go by there. Hon Cafe has grand opening signs up on the front window (many items appear to cost about 5 cents more than the going rate in the neighborhood).

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: racer x

                                          i dont even think dragon land has steamed cha siu bao, they have baked cha siu bao, but they are whatever

                                          havent tried hon cafe

                                        2. Continuing on this thread, I wanted to try making Gau Bao (the Taiwanese hamburger) myself for an upcoming party.

                                          Now I know where to get the buns, but does anyone else have a recipe for the rest of the stuff-- stewed pork, pickled cabbage, peanut powder, etc.? And where do I get that kind of pork belly?

                                          Or alternatively, can I buy them in bulk (eg, 15-20) at any restaurants or bakeries in Manhattan Chinatown or Flushing?


                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: emilia

                                            Seems like a lot of Taiwanese have moved back home these days so it gets harder and harder to find Taiwanese cuisine in the NY area.

                                            Here is a link for a recipe. I am sure there are more on-line:


                                            I hope you can read Chinese. I have recipes at home too but I am too lazy to translate.. ha..

                                            As far as restaurants that serve Gua Bao are concerned, I only know that Laifood Restaurant in Flushing ( Corner of Prince St & 39th Ave in Flushing) serves it. I am sure other places in Flushing may also have it. I don't know if Laifood is still around these days (I was there just a few months ago and did indeed order Gua Bao there) since I don't visit Flushing that often these days.

                                            Lastly, here is a thread on a Taiwanese restaurant in Manhattan. I have wanted to go but never made it there. I am not sure if it's still open (or if it offers Gua Bao on the menu) but maybe you can give it a try.


                                            Wish you good luck.

                                            1. re: bearmi

                                              laifood is still around

                                              but i found a real version of it, go to the Roosevelt Food Mall...its by far the best gua bao ive had in ny its close to the real thing. If u speak chinese u should ask them where they get their buns (gua bao is one of my all time favorite street foods)

                                              here was my review:

                                              1. re: Lau

                                                Wow that sounds interesting... I will have to check it out next time I am in Flushing :) I am a native speaker of Chinese Mandarin and Taiwanese but I am probably too chicken to ask where the owner gets his/her buns from......We may have to leave it to other folks who are more assertive to execute that task.... ha..

                                                Thanks again for the review... sounds really great!

                                                1. re: bearmi

                                                  haha the guy is pretty nice, i dont think he'll mind! and i dont think he speaks english, so thats good

                                                  i was very happy about it, it was even very fresh, i was sort of surprised that he was like its going to take 6 minutes, it was super hot and fresh, i had to wait a couple minutes for it to cool down

                                              2. re: bearmi

                                                I'm sure I've mentioned it on other threads; you can pick this up for takeout from ku-shiang and it is as similarly bad-ass as the one from roosevelt food mall; big fluffy bun, a whole lotta suan-cai and ground peanut, and deliciously fatty pork belly. $2 for a monster. not sure how good it will be for takeout but maybe they will sell you all the components separately, and you can steam the bread at home just before serving? not sure if they'll do that but . . . worth a try.

                                            2. As somebody resurrected this old thread I just wanted to report that I did find ones just like Momofuku uses in a Chinese supermarket in Murray Hill, Queens. It's on Northern Boulevard, around 159th Street. Other places sell things that are similar, but not the same as they're generally larger and a bit fluffier.

                                              16 Replies
                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                Miss Needle, can you share the name of the brand and a little description of what the bag looks like or where exactly you found them in the store. I would love to try these buns as well. Thanks!

                                                1. re: Kerel

                                                  Hi. It's been a while since I've been to that store to get the steamed buns. But it was definitely in the freezer section near the red bean paste steamed buns. The freezer was located in an aisle and not on the perimeters. But since I haven't been there in while, they may have moved things around. The bag was a clear bag with red (?) writing on it. Unfortunately, I don't remember the brand name.

                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                    Greetings everyone.. Im going to be making some crispy roast duck for my family next week and was wondering if there were any updates on finding "He Ye Bao" similar to those served at the Momofukus or Baohaus.

                                                    Im going to check Deluxe food market, but was curious if any developments had arisen, perhaps a bakery that has fresh He Ye Bao. (Anyone friends with David Chang or Eddie Huang?)

                                                    1. re: gastrognome

                                                      you could probably just walk into baohaus and ask them, they're pretty nice

                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                        pretty crazy that Xiao Ye closed; I never even had a chance to eat there.

                                                        btw, walk in to Baohaus on December 20th and buns are $1. would be a good time to ask about supplier (unless they make/steam their own?)

                                                        1. re: bigjeff

                                                          Was in Baohaus today for a Birdhaus Bao, and asked the cook about where they get them. He said "Somewhere in Chinatown". I saw some prepackaged baos in the kitchen, so I'll probably venture down to Chinatown to search, or maybe wait till Eddie is in the Kitchen and inquire further.

                                                          Funny enough the new cook there was previously at Momofuku Noodle Bar. I recognized him from there and asked him where Noodle Bar gets there buns. Same answer ; "Somewhere in Chinatown"

                                                          I'll report back after a trip to Chinatown, and see all of you Monday at Baohaus for $1.00 Bao's.

                                                          1. re: gastrognome

                                                            Why not ask at any (non-chain) Asian bakery in Chinatown? Such as Mei Li Wah, 64 Bayard St (on the north side, between Elizabeth and Mott).

                                                            1. re: diprey11

                                                              I haven't seen any of the bakeries producing these small "taco" shaped bao's. I did however see exactly what im looking for at Kam Man on Canal today in the fridge section. They are imported from Asia, but seemed relatively fresh.

                                                              Kam Man
                                                              200 Canal St, New York, NY 10013

                                                              1. re: diprey11

                                                                I think those Asian bakeries in Chinatown are mostly Cantonese but the He Ye Bao are used often for Taiwanese dishes such as Gua Bao so it maybe hard to find fresh ones.... but you never know, I guess. Maybe someone on this board will eventually track it down.

                                                                1. re: bearmi

                                                                  I have a feeling Flushing may be home to a Taiwanese bakery or two whereas Manhattan Chinatown does not.

                                                                  Time to board the shuttle!

                                                                  1. re: gastrognome

                                                                    never seen them fresh baked, but they are ALWAYS in the frozen section of any typical asian supermarket.

                                                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                                                      agreed. last time i made my (very well received!) david chang-style gua bao, i used the frozen ones from one of the big asian supermarkets and steamed them. my guests were none the wiser-- all gua bao's gone in a matter of minutes ;)

                                                                      1. re: emilia

                                                                        I ended up buying some of these puppies from the refrigerated section of New Kam Man on Canal street. I steamed them up and served them with crispy roast Hudson Valley duck and the typical Peking Duck garnishes. These buns have real longevity. The ones I bought were made in Singapore and not bought frozen.

                                                                        Reallly, tasty!

                                                                        Kam Man
                                                                        200 Canal St, New York, NY 10013

                                                                    2. re: gastrognome

                                                                      Please correct me if I am wrong, but one can ask any Chinese bakery to make a stack of fresh "tacos" (ie, baos). From my past experience, if they have the ingredients (and they do), they will surely do it for an extra buck or so. I presume fresh baos might be superior to frozen ones, but I agree the latter are less hassle and a bit cheaper.

                                                                      1. re: diprey11

                                                                        Ill have to check into that Diprey11. My assumption was that because none of the Cantonese bakeries in Manhattan Chinatown, regularly bake these type of Bao's they would be hard pressed to custom make a small batch for me.

                                                                        1. re: gastrognome

                                                                          The buns you are looking for are steamed, not baked. The dough is slightly different from baked buns. And cantonese bakeries don't usually have the steamers to handle making them.
                                                                          Try the Chinese "delis" (i.e. the ones that sells prepared dishes in (steam tables)) and sell steam buns. I am pretty sure I saw bags of these buns in the window of shops under/near the tracks in Lower East Side/Chinatown.

                                                  2. Thank you to all of the posters on the thread below! I had the same question, and thanks to y'all, I was able to find them in the refrigerator section of New Kam Man at 200 Canal street (in a green and clear package). Success!