The BAO - The Best Bao Buns In STL

4.3 stars Review Philosophy

The BAO Takeaway. The BAO is a great lunch spot, and I have to go back for dinner. The BAO bun combo is delicious and at a solid price point. Parking is easy. Shoestring fries are an 8.5/10. Atmosphere was fun and hip, and the waiter was super helpful.


Table Of Contents: Experience | Food | Atmosphere | Receipt


The Bao Entrance From The North

Details

  • 14 N Central Ave, Clayton, MO 63105
  • (314) 899-9089
  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Yelp - 4.1 stars - 345 ratings
  • TripAdvisor - 4.5 stars - 22 ratings
  • Google Maps - 4.2 stars - 441 ratings

Hours

DayHours
Monday5 PM–10 PM
Tuesday5 PM–10 PM
Wednesday5 PM–10 PM
Thursday5 PM–10 PM
Friday11 AM–10 PM
Saturday11 AM–10 PM
Sunday5 PM–10 PM

Map


The Bao Summary

I met two friends at The BAO for lunch on a Thursday afternoon around 12:30. It was a very good lunch, well-priced at $15.50. I got one of the combo sets, the "One Bao, one drink and fries combo set" with the Kakuni Bao - pork belly with delicious toppings.

For background, a bao is a light, fluffy bun sandwich packed with protein and toppings. If I weren't on a diet, I would have definitely splurged for the two-bao combo with the Wagyu beef burger.

The shoestring fries score a very, very solid 8.5 out of 10 on my fry scale.

I will definitely go back as it was well-priced, with excellent food and good service. I want to try the udon on my next visit.

Kakuni Bao And Fries Combo With A Diet Coke

The Bao Food - Kakuni Bao Combo

Kakuni Bao And Fries Combo With A Diet Coke

The Kakuni Bao was fantastic - pork belly, pickles, fried shallots, sambal, and chives. The little things of the dish - the shallots, sambal, and chives - really added to the flavor. The first bit hits your whole tongue and was delicious.

The pork belly was cooked well. The only slight blemish was that the Bao bun was cold, or at least room temp, which felt kind of weird against the warmer inside. Overall, I really, really enjoyed the Kukini Bao.

The fries were also really good, shoestring fries, fried really well. Very thin, perfectly fried, really good. It had some kind of dipping sauce with it, but I can't tell what it would be based on the menu - it looked like Thousand Islands.

The BAO Atmosphere

The Bao When You First Walk In

The lighting in The BAO was a little bit dark when I came in, but the first impression is a very modern, open floor feel. You can see all the way to the back of the restaurant from the front door.

To the left was a small waiting area and in front of you was the bar. The bar looked great, but we weren't drinking.

The BAO Staff

The staff was super friendly and we had a great, great waiter.

We got seated timely. It was really not packed at 12:45 on a Thursday afternoon.

Other Reviews Of The Food At The BAO

One person ordered the two bao combo set with fried chicken and the Kakuni. His opinion was that the Kakuni was better than the fried chicken.

The second person ordered the two bao combo with soft-shell crab and spicy lobster. He rated them both equally delicious.

The people next to us got the udon and it looked fantastic. I did not get the udon for lunch because at $25+ it seemed more like a dinner serving. If I went back for dinner, that would be what I would order for sure.

Parking And Finding The B-A-O

The Bao Entrance From The South

It was hard to find the entrance to the BAO when we first got there because the sign-out front is a set of symbols. It's not actually Bao, B-A-O, it's some kind of set of abstract symbols.

So I walked past it and checked my phone and walked back. You're in the middle of downtown Clayton, so it's super safe.

Parking was easy at the BAO. Everyone parked up the street across from the library or in the neighborhood to the North.

Neighborhood parking is further, but free. I think parking across from the library is a buck for the hour we were there.

The Bao Receipt

The BAO Receipt

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