Baobao — Shanghai, China
With ‘fast casual’ the food buzzword du jour, it was only a matter of time before the humble baozi, or Chinese steamed bun, was elevated from street food staple to stylish snack.
Enter Tong Qihua, an established restaurant entrepreneur who has charged Chinese studio Linehouse with creating several slick baozi restaurants, the first of which is located on the leafy campus of Tongji University campus in Shanghai, the owner’s alma mater.
Mirroring the restaurant’s superior ingredients and ethical ethos, the architects have installed a transparent greenhouse-cum-kitchen in the airy dining room, where patrons can watch chefs roll, pinch and steam each bun. The space’s maze of two-tone wooden beams provides a counterpoint to hand-glazed green tiles and bluestone cobbles lining the floor, recreating the memory of a garden path.
While time-honoured classics like pork and broth buns set the standard, innovative fillings like sweet and sour lotus root and apple barbecued pork have made the eatery a firm favourite with regulars.