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May 18, 2010 04:32 PM

looking steamed pork buns in the east bay

Dear 'hounders,

I am looking for steamed pork buns (char siu bao? or char siu manapua? don't know the diff, excuse my ignorance) in the east bay. I was in Honolulu last spring and had some unbelievable specimens while there... now I am looking for an adequate substitute since honolulu is a bit of a drive... any suggestions? I am looking to take out, not necessarily a whole dim sum experience.

Thanks, Chick

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  1. Where in the East Bay? There are several take-out dim sum places in Oakland Chinatown: Napoleon Bakery, Sing Sung Pastry Dim Sum, Sum Yee Pastry being the ones I can think of.

    Sum Yee Pastry
    918 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      oakland or berkeley is perfect. Thanks!

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        i like Sun Sing (not Sing Sung). They're more well known for their baked char siu bao (the best in Chinatown), but the steamed ones are solid as well. I haven't had better, as far as takeout options are concerned.

        Sun Sing Pastry Dim Sum
        382 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

        1. re: abstractpoet

          Hi, thought I would follow up.
          We tried Sun Sing and loved the baked buns. Steamed ones were good too, but not nearly as good as the steamed. On the steamed the ratio of pork to bun was off IMHO but the dough was very tasty and had that slight sweetness that identifies steamed char siu bao to me. I did try another place (I forgot the name) that paled in comparison. We're sticking to Sun Sing.
          Thanks again for the rec.

      2. As these are not high ticket items, it would behoove you to try a number of different places and see what satisfies your craving. My husband likes the ones a L&L Seafood in El Cerrito not far from the plaza, which is close to our N. Berkeley home. It is a sit-down restaurant but they certainly do take out orders.

        3 Replies
        1. re: rccola

          I live near El cerrito too. Where is L&L Seafood?

          1. re: SerenaE

            Just south of Ba Le and Jac's on San Pablo across from the Burger King.
            Seafood Restaurant
            10140 San Pablo Ave
            El Cerrito, CA 94530
            San Pablo Ave
            El Cerrito, CA 94530

            1. re: wolfe

              Thanks for supplying the address--I should have!

              The owner imported a dim sum chef from Hong Kong and the dim sum is clean and not too greasy yet thicker skinned than a place like Ton Kiang. Sort of Asian-American fusion dim sum! Sticky rice is good and the turnip cakes are among the best I've had--not too glutinous but instead with turnip shreds identifiable in them.

              Ton Kiang
              5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

        2. They have them in the deli case and also at the counter at Richmond Ranch 99. I liked them but have little expertise in char siu bao. I did have what I thought were good ones from a place on Stockton Street in 1968.

          1. I like Tao Yuen Pastry at 816 Franklin more than the other places I've tried in Oakland, though I don't think I've been to Sun Sing.

            Tao Yuen Pastry
            816 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607

            4 Replies
            1. re: Glencora

              The steamed buns at Tao Yuen are solid - the giant chicken bun could have a bit more filling but I liked the bun. I also tried their egg custard tart - not very much to my liking - the shell was not at all flaky - and even for a non flaky cookie style it wasn't very good. Their sesame ball was OK - comparable to the one I bought at Sun Sing - passable but nothing like the standard at TC pastry in Daly City - very thin and crunchy ( not doughy ). The baked pork bun from Sun Sing is very good. See the image - lots of filling. On another note - the pork/cabbage bun from ShanDong was big but it's not a style of bun that I like - the filling wasn't that flavorful and the bun was too mushy but I think that's the style not the execution.

              1. re: gordon wing

                The bao from Sun Sing looks pretty close to a manapua as far as meat to dough ratio. The consistency of the pork is different in Hawaii (almost a pulled pork) and the buns seem bigger, ginormus.

                1. re: ML8000

                  there are some big Hawaiians - a regular size pork bun would be an hors d'ouevre : ~)
                  I had some big plate lunches when I was in Hawaii!

                  1. re: gordon wing

                    "Local boys don't eat until they're full...they eat until they're tired." : )

            2. I think that manapua is just the Hawaiin equivalent of bao. I agree that the baked ones at Sun Sing are the best. I also like their other dim sum items as well and often do take out as I'm shopping in area.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Dawgmommy

                Manapua are bao but with regional differences...sorta like Cal-Mex v. Tex-Mex. The manapua I've had are bigger with a much higher meat to bread ratio. Instead of a couple of table spoons of meat, it seems like a 1/4lb or more. I've never had manapua like Hawaii in CA. I like Tao Yuen however. I've never had Sun Sing...could be close but I have no idea.

                1. re: ML8000

                  That's a good way of putting it. I guess it got "super-sized" when it got to Hawaii. I hate it when you get only a little bit of meat and alot of dough.

                  I always find it ineresting how different asian items evolve when they make their way around the world along with the emigration of the people. When I see it written in characters, I go, I know what that is.