Where Are The Crispy BBQ Pork Buns in Los Angeles?

The crispy bbq pork bun was probably invented by Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, until recently the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world. Their version is like crack. It’s fueled a ridiculous run at their first US branch which opened recently in Manhattan’s East Village, generating waits of 3 to 4 hours, even though the rest of their menu is pedestrian. I’ve had it at several places in the Bay Area, including iCafe on Waverly Place in SF Chinatown which sells a decent version for $1.25. But it’s hardly available down here. Sea Harbour actually discontinued its version and the only place I’ve seen it on the menu is Golden Valley in Industry, though Lunasia sometimes has it off menu with servers carrying them on trays. Has anybody spotted this item anywhere else locally? If not I’m tempted to say the heretical and proclaim that based on this item alone, San Francisco has regained the lead over Los Angeles for dim sum.

for the uninitiated…


Where do you eat this in SF? Dragon Beaux?

Besides Dragon Beaux there’s Hong Kong Lounge and the unrelated Hong Kong Lounge 2 on Geary, Lai Hong Lounge in Chinatown, and Koi Palace (apparently all three branches). Also an informant just related that they’re available at Pacific Lighthouse in Alameda.

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Whew…yeah, guess they are really walloping LA then huh? Any idea why LA places don’t serve it?

Well I’m hoping some of the local places might be adding crisply bbq pork buns–hope this thread uncovers some.

I’ve had these at China Red. They’re called Baked BBQ Pork Buns on the menu. Is it the same thing? The filling looks the same to me.

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Good one thechez5, looks like China Red’s got [a version of] it…

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I could have sworn I’ve had (lesser) versions of this at another place, but can’t track down where.

Have you tried the BBQ Pork Bolo (Pineapple) buns they sell in Taiwanese bakeries? It is not the same thing, but similar tastes/textures:

If you’re lucky enough to get one hot out of the oven, they’re quite good. The problem is that they normally don’t put them out until they’ve cooled down. One time at Sunmerry in Irvine we learned that they had a tray fresh from the oven waiting in the back, and they only very reluctantly brought a couple out for us while they were still hot. It took some pleading (as we were short for time), and they were clearly annoyed at the request. It’s understandable as it took them out of their normal workflow. Re-heating in a toaster oven will approximate that experience, but somehow it doesn’t live up to the memory of that first bite fresh from the oven…

pineapple bun and what the OP is asking for are 2 entirely different beasts, although texture is indeed very similar.

Yes they are quite different and the pineapple tops are fairly common. Interestingly CBS Seafood in Chinatown has a very good oversized version. Less common are the pineapple top chicken buns.

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@chandavkl: do you know if the NY/SF versions are vastly superior to what we had in LA? I think I’ve had these b/f (based on the pics), and I must admit that I didn’t think they were all that tasty…

I presume Tim Ho Wan is the only place in New York to serve these and that they’re somewhat comparable to Hong Kong. The SF versions are quite a bit better than what I’ve seen at Lunasia and Golden Valley, though those will do in the absence of anything better.

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Lunasia (Alhambra)

Best way to reheat is not only to put in a toaster oven, but then microwave for a few more seconds afterwards. The toaster oven doesn’t sufficiently warm up the insides which may be why the reheated version falls so short.

Trouble with Lunasia’s version is that they’re tiny (the size of an ordinary dim sum baked bbq pork bun), where the Tim Ho Wan and Bay area buns are quite a bit bigger. And as I noted above, it’s not on Lunasia’s menu so it’s not available all the time.

Hi @chandavkl,

Does the one @thechez5 talks about above at China Red look like the ones you’re talking about?

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Hard to say for sure. The tops look like they might be, but the little tins on the bottom are consistent with the pineapple top baked bao.

Definitely did not taste pineapple, fwiw. Unless it’s really, really subtle.

There is no pineapple in the pineapple bun (except at Happy Harbor in Rowland Heights). It’s called pineapple bun because the crust looks like the exterior of a pineapple.

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