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Jul 22, 2012 09:37 PM

Where can I get bao in the Triangle?

Preferably in Chapel Hill or Durham since I live and work on the west end but Cary/Morrisville is okay too.

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  1. According to a post from last summer in this thread, Li Ming's Global Market in Durham has them:

    1 Reply
    1. re: carolinadawg

      Yes this is true. I've watched them roll out the dough, fill and twist the tops before putting them in the steamer. Are they great? *shrugs* but given the lack of any such thing they'll fit the bill.

    2. If you are around Raleigh/Cary stop by Grand Asia. The restaurant section usually has some.

      1. I should have been more clear. I wasn't referring to the soup dumplings, which I believe Li Ming sells, but the soft buns stuffed with the Chinese bbq pork and veggies-- kinda like a Chinese version of banh mi.

        16 Replies
        1. re: bbqme

          Li MIng sells buns. They have more types on the weekend than during the week.

          On the weekend, they have Chinese barbecued pork, a vegetarian bun, a Vietnamese bun (pork and egg), a thai curry bun, and others including sweet fillings like taro.

          They do sell xiao long in small sets but that is only one type of what they sell.

          I'm not sure what you meant by comparing it to Banh Mi becasue I don't see a relationship between a steamed bun of any type and a sandwich on a baguette.

          1. re: castaway

            Hmmm...I'm referring to the not steamed variety. See link below.

            1. re: castaway

              not just on the weekend - I've only ever been to Li Ming on weekdays and they've had every bun you describe every time.

              1. re: tamalesfordinner

                We go to Li Ming's regularly during the week and on the weekend. Frequently they have fewer offerings available during the week from the bakery and the steam trays.

                I talked to them and they said they weren't selling enough during the week to justify making some of the items.

                Just a warning to anyone making a special trip as they may not be fully stocked.

                The people running the bakery at Li Mings changed 6 months ago (or maybe a year ago?) and we don't like their offerings nearly as much as we did.

            2. re: bbqme

              Grand Asia has bao, steamed stuffed buns which look like the photo at the top right side of this wiki:

              They also have soft stuffed buns - not steamed - can be held in your hand in the bakery area. There is a tall warming unit with a glass door at the start of the bakery line. You use tongs to make your choice. Fillings vary with availability on any given day.

              Both varieties are good! The bakery also has a scallion roll which has become one of my favorite breakfast items!

              1. re: meatn3

                Yes, it's the not steamed variety that I was referring to, like the ones pictured in this article:


                1. re: bbqme

                  I have not seen that type at Grand Asia, or elsewhere in the Triangle. The non-steamed ones are like super puffed hamburger buns in size and have a very light consistency. The interior is airy and there is a modest amount of filling inside.

                  Greensboro has a decent amount of Vietnamese restaurants - perhaps someone familiar with their menus will chime in.

                  1. re: meatn3

                    Oops! I quickly had looked at the photo and assumed it was Vietnamese because of the site.

                  2. re: bbqme

                    bbqme - Just wanted to check in to say that I found the bao you're looking for. I was just at the Durham farmers market this morning and a food truck called CJ's Street Food was selling 4 different varieties of bao. They looked exactly like those in the photo you linked. I'm not a huge fan of the food truck fad, but since bao seems to be a rarity in this area, I ordered a pork belly bao. It was really good stuff and I recommend it even though it was a bit pricy at $6. But so it goes in the bizzaro world of food truck pricing. Seriously, those things go for about $3 each in a NYC or San Fran brick and mortar restaurant where you can actually sit down while you eat.

                    1. re: ToothTooth

                      Holy mackerel, $6 a piece? Jeesh! Thanks for posting this info.

                      1. re: bbqme

                        I wanted to update this post to note that Lucha Tigre now has a website and it lists "pork belly buns" on the regular menu. Does anyone know if these are the stuffed steamed dumpling-type variety, or if they are really bao variety like this:


                        Lucha Tigre menu says you can get an order of two for $6:


                        Edit: I just answered my own question by looking at some pictures posted on the Lucha Tigre Twitter feed. The "pork belly buns" are indeed bao! Link to photo is next.


                        1. re: ToothTooth

                          Buns are what you show in the first link.. Bao are enclosed. So these are buns not Bao.

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            Thanks for setting me straight. I guess this thread had me confused about which were bao and which were buns. At any rate I guess what I'm after is them buns, baby!


                            1. re: ToothTooth

                              Wait a minute, a quick internet search tells me that "gua bao" are exactly what I was talking about earlier.


                              The steamed buns (gua bao) that Eddie Huang is famous for in NYC are the same as what Lucha Tigre has on their menu:


                              1. re: ToothTooth

                                I guess it just my interpretation then and a semantics thing. What I commonly think of as Bao are the round and semi circle crimped items.. While I generally see the term 'bun' as the ones you are looking for, but yes they are type of bao. Regardless of term we know what you want :-)

                              2. re: ToothTooth

                                Wait a minute, a quick internet search tells me that "gua bao" are exactly what I was talking about earlier.


                                The steamed buns that Eddie Huang is famous for in NYC are the same as what Lucha Tigre has on their menu:


                2. As the link posted says, the name of what you're looking for is actually gua bao, a Taiwanese street food. I doubt it exists in the Triangle, but maybe it does.

                  1. Ah yes like what you would find at David Changs establishments or Baohaus in NY. I know you can get these prepackaged in the frozen section of the stores mentioned and make them at home. They are still steamed I thought. Or you can get the bun part and make the pork (belly) yourself which may be good and more satisfying for you because you can make it the way you want. I think Lantern has had them on occasion. This would be a nother reason i would like something like a Ramen/Noodle shop mixed with bao place to open in one of these failed restaurant spaces.

                    I always thought that a soup dumpling was just that.. a giant bao that usually has a straw and really hot soup inside. Those I've not seen around these parts. One other suggestion is to see if any of the dimsum restaurants in the area offer what you are looking for.