If you’re looking for Bao buns in downtown Orlando then look no further than King Bao on North Mills Avenue.
The whole area is home to Vietnamese restaurants, Asian restaurants, Asian grocery stores, and bubble tea houses; very fun to walk down during the day.
After a quick trip to an Oriental grocery my friend Jana, and I, were hungry and ready for lunch.
From the outside the restaurant has a small front, but it became very apparent just how popular this place actually was as we pushed open the door almost into the backs of hungry customers.
At first I was worried we would never be able to get a seat, but as we peered around the line of hungry people we saw a lot of free tables; perfect.
It was very open on the inside, and the cooking station took up about a quarter of the restaurant. It worked by choosing your dish and going to the counter to order, and then collecting it once the dish was made, almost like a self serve, which I really liked.
The menu was unbelievably good and the specials even better; we were spoilt for yummy Bao choice. I couldn’t get over the cheap prices for each Bao bun; I wanted to try all of them!
Whilst I stared longingly at the menu, calculating how many little baos I could devour before my stomach ran out of precious space, I noticed the flow of people coming and going. This wasn’t a sit down long dining experience, this was fast, and people spent less than 30 minutes at a time within its walls.
The whole time we were there I noticed many people come and go, but also an incredible amount of delivery orders being sent out onto the road; this place was a goldmine, and rightfully so.
I finally decided on the 2 Bao combo meal for $7 and chose a ‘Hogzilla Bao’ and a ‘Glen Rhee Bao’ with a soda water.
Jana chose the ‘Baja avocado Bao’ and a side of ‘kimchi tots’.
This place was food heaven.
Checkout the line of hungry patrons and the cooking station.
The line moved extremely fast and the food was being made with a well oiled human conveyor situation.
One of my favorite things was the Bao assembly point; it was beautiful, with so many delicious colors and little fluffy Bao pillows whizzing around.
A few moments of conversation where soon interrupted by our names being called at the pick up point.
I was beyond excited as I skipped over to meet my next meal.
I was not disappointed.
The first Bao you see is the Hogzilla Bao. Upon my first bite I instantly thought of Peking sauce used on duck, it had the same taste and paired extremely well with the pork belly. I could barely contain my excited as I nodded wide eyed to Jana across the table. The pickled carrot and daikon really added extra crunch too that bounced off of the delicious pork as though those flavors were destined to always be together. It was fantastic, all of my Bao dreams had come true; I barely made it last 4 bites and I finished the first Bao in seconds.
Next was the Korean short rib Bao and Asian pear salsa.
I’m not a huge fan of pears, but I was rather blown away at the freshness of the ingredients and that added sweet kick that went so well with the short rib.
I’m not sure what marinade they used for the Korean short rib, but it tasted almost like a recipe I make french beef dip with. I was drooling. Both baos where so different in flavor, and texture, and yet so perfectly matched with their accompaniments.
I could feel the love with every bite; whomever chose the menu really did put time and thought into it to ensure excellence.
Jana’s Bao bun looked just as appealing along with her kimchi tots.
Her mutual nods of agreement at the incredible tasting baos sealed the deal on this place being our new favorite hangout.
I also tried some of the kimchi tots, and let me tell you that they blew my mind.
A funny story also happened which transported me back to my childhood. The sriracha aioli that was used on the kimchi tots tasted just the same as a sauce my 6 year old self would ask for at a local donner kebab shop back in England; I would politely go up to the counter every week and ask for some ‘pink sauce’ for the top of my meal. Since my childhood I’ve never found that ‘pink sauce’ again, nor did I know the ingredients. Now, 20 years later, I have found it again at King Bao, and I can’t wait to make it for myself. What a flash into the past!
As we finished the last of our food we decided there and then that this would not be our only trip to this delicious place; we would vow to come back as many times as we could before we departed for our next city.
Thank you King Bao for the best Bao buns I’ve had in the states so far.
If you’re in Orlando, or just passing through, make sure King Bao is at the top of your ‘to do’ list.
Update – September 4th 2018 – I enjoyed King Bao so much that when my husband got home from work last night we ordered delivery from the same place. Both of my meals yesterday where King Bao, and today I had a leftover Bao bun for breakfast and lunch – I’ve basically had 4 meals in a row of King Bao. It’s THAT good! I urge you to drop everything you’re doing right now,and go.
Until next time,