No matter what country, street food is quick, tasty and inexpensive. One Chinese restaurant is adding to the milieu of international street foods found in Austin with the baozi.
Ting Lin, owner of Xian Sushi and Noodle, hopes to bring the flavors of Chinese baozi to residents with his new restaurant Bao’d Up. Originally slated to open this past spring, Bao’d Up will have a soft opening Friday, July 21 before its official opening on July 25.
Baozi, a traditional Chinese street food, are dough buns filled with vegetables or pork and steamed in a bamboo basket. According to Lin, many Austin restaurants serve them as appetizers, but his restaurant will be the first to showcase the tasty buns.
“Bao are pretty common food in Asia and China, you can get bao everywhere on the street,” Lin said. “We’ve been pretty successful with (hand pulled noodles) and this is a great market to try anything authentic Chinese.”
The menu is small, but consists of simple options including traditional pork and vegetable baozi, guabao — imagine a Taiwanese hamburger — fries seasoned with asian spices and bubble tea.
While the french fries and hamburger-like guabao make the restaurant seem more American than one might expect, Lin tries to bring more traditional Chinese flavors to Austin eaters.
“Usually you’ll see restaurants that are more westernized Chinese restaurants outside the Chinatown area,” Lin said. “We do a pretty good job of staying true so Western and Chinese people can have a common forum.”
Lin said it’s taken him years to develop this menu, even going to China multiple times to learn about the different baozi styles. He says the baozi dough is what makes this restaurant authentic, but he decided add his own twist to the recipes he learned in China.
“If you travel to south China or north China, or even west China all the tastes of a bao will be different,” Lin said. “Some prefer it more salty, the south prefers sweeter (baozi). We picked a more southern style.”
Most sourdough recipes call for yeast, but Lin chose a natural route by using raisins to create a juice that takes seven days to ferment.
“After that we use that juice to mix with the flour instead of commercial yeast,” Lin said. “ It takes time, but it’s much more organic.”
With the soft opening, Lin said he hopes they will start to work out the kinks in the process before everything on the menu is available to purchase. Brithany Sanchez, a hostess at his other restaurant, is currently the only employee who is scheduled to move to Bao’d Up and hopes the move will help her grow as an employee.
“I want to be a part of (the company’s) growth,” Sanchez said. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to have that same success, even though it’s small.”
Ashley Qureshi, a regular at Lin’s current restaurant Xian Sushi and Noodle, also said she is excited for the opening of Bao’d Up in order try the new restaurant.
“It’s a really good concept,” Qureshi said. “My husband and I were in the restaurant business for a long time and we’re always excited for something new to open, to try it out and tell our friends about it.”
Fans of Lin’s food will certainly have plenty of opportunities to try new things in the coming weeks and months. In addition to the opening of Bao’d Up, Lin is also working on a third restaurant slated to open in October of this year.
“I’m the person who has a bunch of ideas and then see them out,” Lin said. “I still have control of it, but we are on the same page.”