What is bao, you ask? The term 'bao' may be foreign to some, but in Chinese culture it is an extremely popular and well-known delicacy. Bao is a type of steamed bun made from leavened dough that is typically filled with meats, vegetables, or roots.
Tom Tong first opened GanQiShi (the Chinese name for Tom's BaoBao) in Hangzhou, China in 2009. Growing up, he always loved bao and was saddened by how the modern Chinese market degraded the cultural delicacy. In an effort to reinvigorate the traditions of Chinese food and culture, he opened GanQiShi and focused mainly on providing a consistent, authentic, and well-crafted bao to consumers. This past summer (2016), Tom expanded to his first international location: Tom’s BaoBao in Harvard Square, MA.
At Tom's BaoBao, each bun is crafted with quality and consistency in mind. After the dough is hand cut, weighed, and stuffed, it is steamed for 8-12 minutes in a handmade bamboo steamer imported directly from the Fu Jian province in China. Each basket is lined with a binata mat (also hand crafted in China), which exudes a slight sweet aroma into each bao bun as it steams. Tom and team certainty go the extra mile when it comes to operation; they work hard to maintain the old fashioned craftsmanship and use traditional steaming devices rather than modernized and manufactured steel steamers. Tom truly believes that 'steel is not a flavor' - I would have to agree with him!
In my visit to Tom's, I sampled one of every bao: juicy pork, curry beef, chicken, sweet potato, vegetarian, and the seasonal lobster bao (which was created just for the United States market). Each bun was fluffy and delicious; the flavors were bold, very well balanced and proportioned.
I would encourage everyone to visit Tom's - with the price, quality, and cultural dining experience I promise you will not be disappointed!