It wasn’t exactly crowded when we popped in this afternoon, but there were two other small groups sitting at the tables along the side wall. On the restaurant’s other side was a long counter holding trays of treats: cookies, loaves of bread, and individual-sized breads and buns called “milk bread.”
We quickly chose an intricately twisted green-tea bun, a similar-looking mango bun, and a flat bread topped with corn. Perhaps one of us gave a mournful look to the empty plate labeled “bolo bao,” described as being filled with custard, because our server told us they would be ready in six minutes and they would be delicious. We ordered two, and then threw in a tiny pineapple-shaped cake. Or maybe it was a cookie. In any case, it was adorable.
All six treats plus a blackberry Izze only cost us $11.
We took the mango and green tea milk breads home to eat later. We heated one in the microwave and ate the other cold. While I definitely recommend heating them, they were very tasty both ways – delicately flavored, with a sweetness level somewhere between a Midwest-steakhouse white roll and a dessert bun.
We didn’t try any of the more Western-style desserts, though I noted a chocolate-cherry cookie and a beautiful chocolate-espresso cake with caramel sauce. (The cake, at $4, was the most expensive item I saw; most were $2.) I hope they take after their Asian-style counterparts in being delicious but not excessively sweet. I expect to find out very soon.
My one concern is that I fear this is not what Americans expect when they hear the word “bao” – namely, pillowy steamed buns filled with barbecued pork. I hope that people who venture into Mean Bao looking for dim sum will stay and discover the sweet new pleasures in store for them at this quirky Asian/fusion bakery.
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