The restaurant is an odd combination, caught somewhere between a swanky bar and a quick service/takeout joint—where customers order Asian-influenced dishes at the counter while imbibing in classic cocktails like Old-Fashioneds, Ginger Lychee Martinis, craft beers or sake. The mixologists on duty really knew their stuff (we had a Manhattan), but we were there for the bao (steamed filled buns), so sample we did.
The bread is available in either whole wheat or white, and we sampled both. The most surprising thing about the bao is that it’s served open-faced, much like a pita sandwich.
Here’s a list of the bao we tried, in order of tastiness:
1. Burger bao (beef and garlic chive patty, caramelized red onion, tomato, wild arugula, chipotle ketchup, garlic aioli, toasted bun) – This is a nontraditional take on the Chinese treat, but it proves to be a really tasty burger. $5
2. Crispy panko crusted fish (Alaskan cod, yuzu tartar sauce, bibb lettuce, scallions) – The fish was crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside as it should be. The tartar sauce wasn’t too overpowering, thanks to the citrus influence of the yuzu. $5
3. Original pulled pork (hoisin braised bbq pork, pickled red onion, cucumbers) – It was just ok—we’ve tasted better pork bao from the freezer section of 99 Ranch stores. The bbq sauce was way too sweet. $4.5
4. Thai peanut chicken (grilled chicken, thai peanut sauce, cucumber, cilantro, crushed peanuts) – Now this was a total disappointment; we couldn’t taste the Thai spice or peanut sauce, which is a problem WITH A THAI PEANUT DISH. $4.5
Will we be back? Maybe…but for a happy hour drink with a few bao to snack on the side.
Best deal? Order two bao and get a “Napa salad” for just $2.5o more. And really, the salad is a generous portion that’s really well done and lightly dressed.
Take a Bao
11838 ventura blvd
studio city ca 91604
Phone 818 691 7223