Tempting though it was to name this post “Holy Bao!” or even “Bao Wow!” I resisted. The name on the N. Central Avenue restaurant is simply Bao with the words Bun and Bar added in one corner of the window. On their website, the place is called The Bao. But whatever the place is called, their white, puffy, steamed dumplings are scrumptious and addictive.
Owner RJ Xu spent a year traveling hither and yon, tasting and testing the Asian delicacy until he felt he had the most perfect bao ever.The version offered in Clayton mimics a Thai version, rather than the Chinese or Vietnamese varieties. When stuffed with lobster, or wagyu beef and Havarti, or soft-shell crab, teriyaki chicken, even ice cream, the fluffy buns become what general manager Benjamin Bauer calls “little pocket of goodness.” No argument here.
Cool Decor and Menu
The Bao catches your attention right away with its black, soft gray and gold decor accented with ornate mirrors and heavy drapes. The interior design reminded me of the Peace Hotel, that I visited on The Bund in old Shanghai years ago.
When Cyndy and I lunched at Bao (formerly Coastal Bistro), we ordered from the walk-up counter and found a sunny seat near the window. In the evening the menu upscales a bit and servers take your order tableside.
The Bao. 14 N. Central Avenue in Clayton. Open: Mon-Thu 11a-10p; Fri-Sat 11a-Midnight; Sun 11a-3p. Owner: RJ Xu, (former owner Sushi Station in Webster); General Manager: Benjamin Bauer (former mixologist at The Libertine); Chef: Nisa York (her family owns Thai-restaurant, Blue Elephant in Clayton).