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Sep 15, 2013 09:11 AM

Gua bao (‘hirata buns’)

What do people think of these, are they the next London 'food trend'? I was at Fresh and Buns (review available on my blog) a couple of weeks ago which seems to be quite a big opening.

Has anyone been to Yum Bun or one of the street food places that do them? How do you think the ones in London compare with the Momofuku ones if you have had them?

I would be keen to know your thoughts.


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  1. Hullo R&R

    Yup they are definitely /a/ trend... Not sure if they are the next one or the current/last one!

    Interesting I did a lot of research into the topic recently for a blog post (including an enormous amount of first hand research). Pork buns aren't just a NYLON trend, bear in mind the damn things have most definitely gone global!


    I went to Flesh & Buns a few weeks ago. If you can get away from the ridiculously loud stereo system the food is downright delicious - hard to get away from that. The strategy of upselling you on extra buns is a bit obvious but I guess you have to make money somehow.

    Yum Bun however I think is wildly overrated - not only when set against the Momofuku original but against food in general. Not only are the shamelessly ripping off MMFKU but they're not even good at it. I've been there three times (once the stall and twice the hole in the wall). Two really bad experiences one okay. Most commonly the meat is dry and overcooked and the whole thing haphazardly put together. You expect love and attention from these sort of places (I mean there's only, like three things on the menu), I sense neither.

    For contrast, I was back in New York last week and popped into Noodle Bar for a refresher course. The buns there were a complete revelation. Two things they do differently - you actually get two stacked slices of pork in each bun not one - which means they are really full and the meat:bun ratio is much higher. Second the pork is really really soft, fatty and melting - I have heard tale that rather than roasting (as in the cookbook) they confit these puppies submerged in lard. I can believe it! Much better than any of the hirata bun, guabao, rip-off buns elsewhere (and substantially better than the emaciated version served at Momofuku Ko in Sydney).

    Hope that's useful. Always happy to talk bun!


    PS Also Shoryu ramen on Regent St also do a very nice Hirata bun - more the Jap version (mayo/lettuce not hoisin sauce) but still excellent - think a McChicken sandwich with pork belly and you will the right idea.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jon Tseng

      Thanks, that's interesting. Also will not go out of my why to try Yum Bum...

      1. re: restaurantsandrants

        I tried the hiratu bun at Shoryu Ramen today since I was in that neighbourhood. I was very happy with my lunch as one bun was enough for me. The staff is extremely friendly, especially manager Silvia from Italy who chatted with me for quite awhile.

        The spicy mayo/lettuce/cucumber was a bit sloppy but the bun itself was fluffy and yummy. I'm looking forward to my next trip back to NYC... lots of noodles to try!

        I wanted to also try their soft shell crab tempura but it wasn't yet available as I was a bit early.

    2. Have you tried the buns from Bao? They're a street food stall/bar at Netil Market. I recently tried these for the first time at Street Feast and I thought the buns themselves and the topping were really good. I didn't really think much of the filling though - they're filled with braised pork belly, shredded and in a soy-based sauce that was overly salty. They are topped with peanuts and their own preserved vegetables.

      I'd like to try making my own some time, actually!

      1 Reply
      1. re: astereilla

        That's the Taiwanese version I find them less satisfying than the Japanese or Momofuku ones. Leongs Legend also does them check out Jay Rayners Observer review from last week! J