Bao (filled, steamed buns) are enjoying something of a newfound popularity on Western shores, but in China - its country of origin - this common street food is being elevated to restaurant fare.
The latest opening to epitomise this movement, is Beijing’s Yangyang Baozipu. Here, the capital’s version of the bun is served amongst a theatrical space designed by Lee Hsuheng and Zhao Shuang of local design firm Golucci International, who have made bao a literal concept for their blueprint of the restaurant. This is most evident in the rounded layered ceilings, which bear a heavy resemblance to the traditional stacked circular bamboo steamers used to cook bao, and even feature linear slots which imitate the gaps through which steam would escape.
Tall shoots of bamboo act as pillars throughout the room, which is punctuated with China’s favourite hue — red — seen everywhere from the walls to sporadic stools. In a space with the capacity to serve popular cuisine to 120 diners, Yangyang Baozipu could have been easily slipped into themed vulgarity, yet considered touches such as walls lined with grey brick salvaged from an old factory prevent it from doing so. Terrazzo flooring, rattan pendant lighting, and bamboo screens sectioning off intimate nooks each inject the space with a sophisticated ambience. Dumplings have never been so sexy.