Gua bao (割包) is a Taiwanese staple found all across the island in night markets, street side and even posh sit down restaurants. The appeal of a slab of fatty pork belly tucked in between a steamed flat bun is unparalled. Tourists from all across the globe trek all the way to Taiwan just to get a taste of this oh-so-delicious sandwich. Some have even gone so far as to christen it a “Taiwanese sandwich,” which, is pretty fitting.

When the gua bao made it’s way onto American shores, Taiwanese chefs from east to west began making it their own. Altering the gua bao using American ingredients and unveiling it to a generation of eaters who love it just as much as we did in Taiwan.  Subsequently, the gua bao(now called baos) can be found all around the San Francisco Bay Area. It is now up to us, to help you find where you can score some of the best baos here in our city.

 

San Francisco

Good things happen when #foodtrucks become restaurants #steamedbuns @chairmantruck #SanFrancisco

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The Chairman

San Francisco
Menu 1

One of the original purveyors of the bao movement here on the West Coast, the Chairman got it’s start slinging its wares on food trucks all around the bay. Their footprint has grown and as a result, we are blessed with a stationary store front in the heart of the tenderloin. Don’t let the sheisty location fool you, The Chairman throws down a bao like a beatdown in the UFC. These baos are ridiculous. From coca-cola braised pork, to spicy chicken and traditional pork belly. The Chairman has your bao cravings covered in the city.

The Chairman
670 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 (map)
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Website
Price: $3.25 – $3.75

 

Mountain View

Source Foursquare

Source Yelp

Source Yelp

Kumino Restaurant

Mountain View
Menu 1

The history of Kumino is actually pretty interesting as it was founded by a former Manresa line cook. Why is that significant? Well, Manresa is a three Michelin star restaurant in Los Altos with a tasting menu that runs for $235 and is consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in the entire world. That doesn’t mean Kumino is some stodgy ass joint, far from it. The small place is artistic to the core and the restaurant’s baos are some of the best in the bay. Variations range from pork shoulder to a unique corned beef shank with kimchi and thousand island sauce, no doubt there is some Michelin starred influence in every bite. 

Kumino Restaurant
580 North Rengstorff Ave, Mountain View, CA 94043 (map)
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Price: $3.25 – $3.75

 

Oakland

 

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Taiwan Bento

Oakland
Menu 1

Purveyors of fine Taiwanese food, it is no surprise Taiwan Bento is on this list of the most revered baos in the Bay Area. Founded by a Taiwanese couple, Taiwan Bento brings authentic Taiwanese cuisine served up in a modern and chic setting.  For less than $6, you can get some authentic tasting baos to fill up that tummy.

Taiwan Bento
412 22nd Street, Oakland, CA 94612 (map)
Facebook
Website
Price: $5.94

 

San Jose

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Tai Kee Won Ton

San Jose
Menu 1

If food is all that you care for and no frills is synonymous with quality, then you will love the gua baos over at Tai Kee Won Ton. These guys are hidden in a nondescript plaza that sits within an industrial park full of cabinet and countertop makers. 

TaiKee Won Ton
2092 Concourse Drive, San Jose, CA 95131 (map)
Website
Price: $4.99

 

San Francisco

 

Liholiho Yacht Club

San Francisco
Menu 1

The baos here are called “beef tongue, kimchi, cucumber, poppy seed steam bun.”

Liholiho Yacht Club
871 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 (map)
Website
Facebook
Price: $12.50

 

Oakland

 

Izzo Restaurant

San Jose
Menu 1

The baos here are called “beef tongue, kimchi, cucumber, poppy seed steam bun.”

Izzo Restaurant
1701 Lundy Ave, San Jose, CA 95131 (map)
Website
Facebook
Price: $6.95

 

San Jose

Source Yelp

Taiwan Liu He Snacks

San Jose
Menu 1

The baos here are called “beef tongue, kimchi, cucumber, poppy seed steam bun.”

Taiwan Liu He Snacks
489 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129 (map)
Price: $5.50

 

Mountain View

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Bao buns: Eggplant, pork belly & Asian breakfast

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Churro Bao with French Vanilla Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche. All the noms. Thanks Tina!

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Buffalo Bar

Mountain View
Menu 1

Like the name states, Buffalo is more of a bar rather than a restaurant like the other places on this list. Not like that really matters since they serve some pretty out-of-this-world baos. From unique slants on ingredients such as chicken karaage and duck confit taking the place of the pork belly, Buffalo has some pretty inventive shit.  Just check out the ice cream bao in the last photo above. #badass.

Buffalo
292 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041 (map)
Website
Facebook
Price: $3.75 – $4.75

 

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Cover Photo [Notes of Bacon]