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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chairman Bao is Already Controversial, But is it Worth Fighting Over?

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Baked bao with Chinese spiced duck confit and mango salad. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Baked bao with Chinese spiced duck confit and mango salad.
Chairman Bao launched just yesterday and is already embroiled in controversy, but that didn't stop us from crossing the (invisible) picket line today as it parked for its second day of operation in front of Economy Restaurant Fixtures (1200 Seventh St. at Irwin).

The slick truck mainly offers individual buns that are either steamed ($2.95) or baked ($5.75), as well as tropical fruit drinks such as ginger lychee or pineapple salted caramel, made with shaved ice and tapioca balls ($3.50); combo meals with one baked or two steamed buns and a shaved ice drink are also available ($9).

click to enlarge TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
Baked bao at Chinese dim sum places typically possess a sweetly glazed top and a medium-soft consistency, but these baked bao bear a much stronger resemblance to soft Hawaiian sweet-bread rolls, unglazed and squishy. They tasted good, especially with Chinese spiced duck confit (though it wasn't sticky or dense like the confit we're used to) laden with mint and mushy mango. More successful in bao-like terms were the steamed variety, particularly the tasty Chinese sausage and egg with hoisin combo. But from an authenticity viewpoint, we don't think Baohaus, the New York eatery calling for a Chairman Bao boycott, has to worry about competition in anything other than name.

A Chairman Bao rep told SFoodie that the truck will likely park in the same spot once a week, and plans to include cities such as Emeryville, Burlingame, and Fremont on its Bay Area-wide route.

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Tamara Palmer


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