Blair Warsham, a white boy originally from Atlanta who has French training and has been cooking underground in San Francisco via his "guerilla dining" company graffEats, channels his passion for Asian cooking into American Bao Bar. He began the pilot series of this new project, which has aspirations to go brick-and-mortar, in February and is starting a new schedule for May: Friday and Saturday nights at 6:30 p.m. (starting May 3) at the former Lot 7 space in the Mission. Each night offers a family-style menu for $37.
Warsham's Southern roots show through in menu items like steamed bao with fried green tomato (though the dish is intermingled with Chinese black beans), and a bouillabaise shooter, remixed with Malaysian inspiration and served with shrimp on a shrimp chip. He's also revisiting a favorite that customers loved when he made it at Tinderbox restaurant before it closed in 2008: chicken wrapped and fried in plantain, here served with banana sambal.
A research trip to Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, and Singapore last year helped Warsham explore the holy intersection between sweet, sour, salty, soft, and crunchy that he strives to achieve in his dishes; it's something he nails with a five-spice smoked pork bao, which is layered with peanuts and big slices of jalapeño.
Mark Bright and Kris Esquenda (of MarKris Wine Group) will be pairing the food with beer and wine. For dessert, expect ice cream-and-cookie sandwiches by Batter Bakery.
Reservations aren't required, but they are recommended and appreciated; mail firstname.lastname@example.org to secure a table in advance.