TAKE A BAO

A whole lot more than just Bao

By Tracy Ng

Don’t let the punny name fool you—there’s a whole lot more going on here besides the namesake steamed wonders. Chef Gavin Portsmouth’s vision unfolds in a varied menu of modern dishes inspired by travels all over Asia. All that gets wrapped up in a fun, casual space with a full bar serving handcrafted cocktails made with ingredients like Thai basil and Kaffir lime.

Stage left is a banquet of pan-Asian-inspired options, kicking off with slow-cooked caramel chicken wings and their can’t-stop-won’t-stop finger-licking glaze that is at once savory, sweet, and just a touch spicy from a combination of oyster sauce, serrano chiles, and ketchup. Stage right, large plates, from the popular eight veggie salad—roasted corn, edamame, sugar snap peas, avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radish sprouts, sesame seeds, romaine hearts, and tangy vinaigrette—to the coconut curry and tiger shrimp, decadent with an instantly addictive modern take on classic flavors, along with perfectly cooked, springy plump shrimp.
Of course, the bao is fantastic: Fragrant, fluffy, and rolled flat—the better for gripping mouthwatering fill from the house-cured grilled pork belly with Japanese mayo and okonomiyaki sauce, to the fried chicken and slaw with tamarind BBQ sauce.

And from the bar, consider concoctions like the Kaffir Mule or the coconut-basil gimlet, or toast to the times with the cheeky outlier, The Bad Hombre, blending Vida mezcal, Arette tequila, grapefruit juice, agave, and serrano chiles.

With Take a Bao’s expanded menu built around the exploration of flavors, and a fun cocktail, beer, and wine program, you can’t help but ask for an encore next time you’re in the neighborhood.

hours

Mon–Sat 11:30 AM–10 PM; Sun 11:30 AM–9 PM

price range

$9.50 (pad Thai) to $15 (seared ahi tuna and daikon salad)
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