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Chinese steamed buns or dough

I'm planning on making a bunch of Momofuku's Pork Belly Buns for a party:


Anyone know where i can buy the buns already made or the dough?

I've been using one of Trader Joe's flatbreads, and it works ok, but this time I'd like something closer to the original.

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  1. i heard David Chang interviewed recently and he said that the dough is just like what you'd use to make plain white bread, if that helps at all . . . he said it was really a very simple dough.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mariacarmen

      I believe Chang also said that the place where he had what he thought were the best steamed buns ever (and where he kept asking for their "secret recipe") turned out to just be using the same frozen buns you can buy at any big Asian market. So I wonder if making your own would be much of an improvement, except for the freshness factor, of course.

    2. Dim sum places and some Chinese markets will have already made plain buns which people eat like bread. If you're going to stuff them with your own recipe you're better off making your own from scratch.
      Recipe from the Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

      1. Wing Lee Bakery on Clement sells bags of mantou (made with either white flour or wheat flour) that are pretty good. I recommend steaming them to warm them up. The problem with buying them instead of making them is that the buns are usually pretty big.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sfbing

          I have tried a couple recipes but something missing. One thing is the color.....they are not as white. A friend told me her mother put some vinegar in steaming water which is suppose to act as a bleach. I havent tried yet. Any ideas.

        2. I have made my own dough but after a cousin made buns for his "gold coin pork" a dish I no long eat because of health issues (one piece of pork, one piece of honey dip slice of pork fat and hoisin sauce no longer on my diet). I was shocked how well Bridgeport frozen dough work. In fact I no longer take the time to make my own dough. If call up a take out dim sum place they may be willing to make for you.

          1. You can usually buy dough at just about any bakery.

            1. If you are in SF city, I suggest you try Kingdom of Chinese Dumplings on Noriega, an outlet that sells frozen dumplings and buns where the Chinese ladies make them in the back. They may be willing to sell you the dough for buns or call ahead and see if they have regular man tou (steamed bun) before they hit deep freeze for the freshest batch.

              1 Reply
              1. re: K K

                Asian American Food Company
                 1426 Noriega Street 
                (between 21st Ave & 22nd Ave) 
                 San Francisco,  CA  94122 (415) 665-6617 

              2. Someone on Yelp asked a similar question a while ago but they were more so looking for places that sold pork belly with steamed buns to eat to replicate a Momofuku experience.

                Places that come to mind

                Heaven's Dog SF

                Tea Garden (SF) though I can't remember if they still do

                5 Joy (Foster City) - Taiwanese style gua bao, weekends only. Though they may sell just the buns or dough also if you give them enough time. The beauty is that they're probably already shaped and divided into the bite sized piece (vs KOCD where the man tou bun is bigger).

                1 Reply
                1. re: K K

                  In San Mateo, I loved the mantoh at Noodle Shop. They're smaller than the typical ones and were great with the stewed pork belly.

                  Noodle Shop
                  164 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

                2. Also check your local Chinese supermarket freezer. The Marina Foods market in San Mateo had frozen gua bao (just the buns) available. It was either made by Wei Chuan or Jia Mei. Just re-steam them and they should be decent enough.

                  1. Just for the record, Tai Kee Won Ton in San Jose, a few doors down from Ramen Halu, has gua bao on the menu (listed as Taiwanese sandwiches, steamed pork buns with stewed pork belly in them)

                    1. Ranch 99 (at least in Mountain View) has them in the refrigerator section, 12 per pack, $3. They are pretty good match for the Momofuku BBQ pork recipe.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: BBQ Boy

                        How about a source for steamed buns in the East Bay? (The ones from Shan Dong are good, but too big for gua bao.) I assume if nowhere else I can hit up the Richmond 99.

                        And do they typically sell pork belly at Ranch 99 also?

                        (The combination of reading this thread and having just received the Momofuku cookbook as a gift has sealed the deal in terms of what I want for dinner tomorrow.)

                        99 Ranch Market
                        3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA

                        1. re: abstractpoet

                          You can buy pork belly from any Chinese supermarket butcher.

                          But you want to be careful about the cuts you want to get. They have at least two different cuts, at least in Marina Foods San Mateo. One is innocently labeled as pork belly in English but it is a cut where the fat content is so high that it's not funny. The best cut to get is Wu Hwa Rou (Mandarin), Mmm Fa Yuk (Cantonese) that translates to Five Flower Meat.

                          At Nijiya supermarket you can buy Kurobuta pork belly by the block (so you can chop or slice it anyway you want), most of the time they use pork from Canada. They also sell it in prepackaged slices (like bacon). And of course any Korean supermarket (especially in the Santa Clara/Sunnyvale range by El Camino) would have it prepackaged as well in the meat section.

                          1. re: K K

                            Thanks! Yeah, I think "wu hwa rou" is what I want. Do you know if that cut comes with or without the skin?

                            For the Momofuku preparation, it seems like getting a whole slab (and then slicing it after it's cooked) would be best.

                          2. re: abstractpoet

                            They usually have several varieties of pork belly preparations at Richmond 99 w/wo skin. I like their $2.99 a pound beef shank for my cheap imitation Osso Buco. It ain't veal but it's meatier and pretty tasty.

                            1. re: abstractpoet

                              I saw a big selection of Chinese buns on the sidewalk in Chinatown Sunday. I'm not sure which place it was but it was on the northeast side of Webster between 8th and 7th.

                            2. re: BBQ Boy

                              I bought the frozen Chimei brand steamed buns (specifically designated for gua bao) at Ranch 99 last night for $1.99 (for a package of 10). Will report back on the quality, but I imagine it'll be fine.

                              As it turns out, they sell a few different kinds of steamed buns in the freezer aisle at Berkeley Bowl too. Not the "gua bao" kind, but not super-huge either, so in a pinch they would have been OK. There were small mantou and "yin si juan" - the kind with the folded dough threads and, I believe, scallions.

                              A nice 1.5 lb. piece of pork belly from Ranch 99 came out to a little over $5 (I think it was $3.29 a pound). I had them cut off the skin for me, but kept it, so now I can make chicharrones too. (The only skinless pork belly they were selling, at least last night, was the bone-in kind.)

                              1. re: abstractpoet

                                Now if you can find a source for rich bran oil you can Farr that pork rind.

                                1. re: wolfe

                                  I believe 99 Ranch Market carries rice bran oil, not sure of the brand, though.

                                2. re: abstractpoet

                                  The frozen buns heated quite nicely in the steamer. I didn't think they were substantially different from any that I've had in a restaurant. Given that, it really doesn't seem worth it to me to try to make the buns from scratch or even to get any of the restaurant-made versions people have suggested, if you'd just have to reheat them anyway. It seems like maybe that would only be better if you were eating them fresh.

                                  1. re: abstractpoet

                                    Just as a point of information many restaurant use frozen buns. I had a great steamed bun in Vancouver once and ask the waiter how often the kitchen staff made the buns. I was totally surprised when told they got them from China frozen. So after that time I have stop making my own bread for steaming. It not worth effort. So if I were you I buy frozen buns from now on.

                                    1. re: abstractpoet

                                      Yeah Mr Chang's wonderland sandwich is just upscaling Taiwanese Gua Bao in a different way. Given that those ChiMei frozen buns are made by a Taiwanese/Chinese run company catering specifically for this need, and shaped and formed and sized for this purpose, it's definitely a no brainer to use those for a home fix. And good price too.

                                      Now for a shortcut, just go to a good Shanghainese or Northern restaurant, order the braised pork belly dish (mostly known as Tung Por Mahn Rou), add your own preserved mustard greens and shaved peanuts, chopped cilantro, and it should surpass most verisons out there. Some Northern restaurants have a similar dish called Zhouzi which the proper cut of meat escapes me (shoulder or "elbow").

                                    2. re: abstractpoet

                                      Richmond 99 12/4 11am, both skinless w/wo rib and very meaty. There was belly prewrapped to the right and in the butcher cases. Sure of the time as possible to drive down to the Middle Eastern Market and get a fresh flat bread.

                                      1. re: wolfe

                                        I have not been as lucky in finding the perfect fat to meat to skin ratio (five flower pork belly) for making this dish at 99 Ranch. But one day I will find what I want (maybe my next trip to San Francisco Chinatown) and then on a cold day I will be sitting enjoy my pork belly dish watching football.

                                        I had a wonderful Naan beard at Costco today and I think I will try this beard for the pork belly.

                                  2. Marina Market in San Mateo has the steamed buns for sale in the hot steam table area - up by the registers. I don't remember if they have them all day, though - I know I've seen them in the morning when they're selling congee.

                                    1. I ended up using King's Hawaiian bread from Costco, as I was too short on time to make a separate trip to forage for the Chinese steamed buns. Also, used pork shoulder instead of belly.

                                      Actually, the 'buns' turned out pretty well with the sweet Hawaiian bread rolls. Probably would have been better with pork belly instead of shoulder, but what isn't?

                                      1. I am also planning on making the Momofuku pork belly buns for New Year's. It seems we have good reports on the ChiMei brand of frozen buns. Would these be commonly available in an Asian market in SF? I can go to 99 Ranch in Daly City if necessary.