I think many folks are familiar with the steamed buns originating from Northern China. Depending on where you’re from, they are known as Baozi, Xiaolongbao, Mantou, Manapua—or Bánh Bao if you’re Vietnamese.
Growing up, I have very vivid memories of my mom making Bánh Bao. In fact, she had each of my siblings in an assembly line for her own little Bánh Bao Factory—each of us being responsible for a certain component of the Bánh Bao. Cutting up the boiled eggs, creating little meatballs of the pork mixture, slicing the Lap Xuong (Chinese sausage), rolling out the Bánh Bao dough, and my very tough job—cutting little squares of paper to place the Bánh Bao on. Hey, without me, the Bánh Bao would stick to the steamer! 🙂
Needless to say, I am quite familiar with Bánh Bao. That is, until a recent trip to Houston, Texas.
While hanging out with family in Bellaire (Houston’s version of Little Saigon), my cousin Bi wanted to pick up some Bánh Bao from T.P. Banh Bao in the Hong Kong City Mall. But not only did he want the traditional steamed buns, he wanted to try out T.P. Banh Bao’s specialty buns— Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn. Translation: Deep Fried Bánh Bao
EXCUSE ME?! Deep Fried Bánh Bao?! I was both grossed out and intrigued at the same time—and I love all things fried!
That was it, we needed to try them—despite being utterly stuffed from the Dim Sum we just inhaled.
Photo from Flavor Boulevard
Bi placed his order and a few minutes later, we had our little hands on a box of Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn that were fresh out of the fryer. After a few minutes of obligatory cooling down time, we cracked open a Bánh Bao and took a bite.
And you know what? They were really tasty! I was concerned that the dough would soak up all of the oil but it appeared that they used a different type of Bao dough that was both thinner and less dense. The dough had a nice crunch and was slightly sweet—like traditional Bao dough. The filling was quite flavorful and there was a lot of it.
I’m a convert now. Sure, this isn’t something you can eat all of the time but its uniqueness and taste is definitely worth eating again! And at $11 for a box of 9, it’s not too steep for a quick treat.
Those Texans…..What won’t they fry? 🙂
T.P. Banh Bao
11209 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77072