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Mar 19, 2013 03:44 PM

Best frozen Asian buns?

I never knew about the existence of the various Asian buns until about a year ago when I had a Chinese-American roommate, who would keep a variety of store-bought ones in the freezer at all times. Never tried them and didn't really know what they were, but they had all kinds of interesting fillings. I think he would microwave them for a quick breakfast.

Then more recently I tried the frozen char siu bao from Trader Joe's and really liked them. I checked out my local Asian market and saw that they had a couple packed freezer cases full buns and dumplings of various kinds. I picked another random char siu bao pack, which was again really good.

I'd like to try some of these fresh-made of course, but I don't know of a place near me that makes them. For now, I'd just like to try some more of these convenient frozen ones to see what I like, especially with the fillings that are less familiar to me, e.g. the various bean pastes. There are so many that it's a little intimidating though. I realize availability of things like this vary, but does anyone have some suggestions of good brands/varieties of frozen buns?

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    1. re: alliaphagist

      Frozen bun brands tend to be regionally distributed, I don't see the same brands in NYC that are common in SF bay area. Probably why you are not getting much response.

      Anyways I live in SF, there are plenty of places in the area that sell them freshly made, though they are usually in the steam tray so you can't see them.

      There's a vendor at the Mountain View Farmer's (I think they also sell out of their shop in Fremont) market that sells frozen dumpling and buns. 99 Ranch (and other big Chinese supermarket) dining area often sell have steam buns. In SF you can get 3 buns for $1.80 at the dim sum "bakeries". You can take it home and freeze it yourself.

      My mom makes great pork/veg buns..but it is time consuming. She doesn't do it much any more.

    2. In the Chicago area this is an easy question to answer: Wow Baos, with Lettuce Entertain You selling them in several of their restaurants under that name, now having extended sales to Jewel supermarkets (frozen Wow Baos). Lettuce Entertain You has replaced traditional bao fillings eg Red Bean Paste with more American-familiar fillings like beef or chicken curry and also has increased the ratio of filling to dough. For everybody else, maybe you'll get lucky and Wow Bao will go national.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Querencia

        looks pretty cool. I actually lived in Chicago this past summer, but never went to one of these.

      2. I've started buying Gua Bao, the folded Taiwanese buns. I'd seen them on some TV shows, and then read that most restaurants buy them frozen, and steam them. It's the same sort of dough as the filled ones, but you use your own fillings.

        1. This Samlio red bean paste bun is pretty good

          1. <Then more recently I tried the frozen char siu bao from Trader Joe's and really liked them. >

            Wait til you try the freshly made ones. :P

            <but I don't know of a place near me that makes them>

            I see you are posted in SF area. If you are from SF area, then you will have no problem finding places make fresh steamed buns.

            I actually can make decent Char Siu Bao, but I must tell you that it is not easy, and it is also time consuming as well. They do taste as good as most Dim Sum restaurants I have been too. Yes, I am patting myself on the back. :D

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I am moving to SF in a month actually. I'm looking forward to trying some freshly made ones, among many other things.