Saturday, September 12, 2020

Eating off the Hill: Gongfu Bao's fried chicken bao

Lest you think after my last post that I'm on a very unhealthy fried chicken kick, this lunch was from a few weeks ago. And I wouldn't put it in the same comparative category as the fast food chicken sandwich wars. Though it is perhaps an interesting ethnic derivative.

Anyways, four or five blocks down the street from me is Gongfu Bao, which I have walked by to and from work for a few years. It always seemed busy and interesting but I never had a chance to stop in. But they're open for takeout, so I decided to try them for a take-home lunch a few weeks ago.

Their namesake bao is the primary attraction and comes in several varieties: braised brisket, tofu, pork belly, spiced pork and fried chicken. The other options being more traditional, I thought the fried chicken sounded the most interesting. Though I'll be back for the pork belly in the near future.

The bao are sold in pairs, two of the same, so for $13 I got two fried chicken bao with gai choy relish, pepper salt mayo and fried basil.

I think they forgot to fry my basil, but the fried chicken breast was crispy, juicy and substantial, and the bao was fresh and soft. My one down note was the gai choy relish. I don't care for relish or other picked things but thought this was worth the chance. Probably better than your standard relish, but still just not my thing. If you like relish though, I'm sure it's great. 

Anyway, it felt substantial and was tasty and I enjoyed the chicken, but it felt very one-note. Last year we had a Vietnamese place just down from the campaign office in Scarborough -- Banh Mhi Metro -- and I would go and get some bao when I needed a break from samosas. What I liked about the ones there was that there was some veg to go with the meat, for a more varied and complex dish. Gongfu Bao could benefit from some slaw. Still, a nice lunch.

Anyway, to accompany my bao lunch I ordered the Wonton Chip and Dip, listed on the menu with Gongfu spice & dip of the day for $5. Seemed like a mayo base with some chipotle-like. Basically, chips and dips with a bit more substantial crunch. Was tasty and certainly left me full.

Will be back to try some of the other dishes, like the braised brisket and pork belly baos, but will hold the relish. it would be nice if they would let you mix bao in your pair. The dishes don't seem authentic, but they are good.

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