Have Steam Bun, Will Travel

Recently, I had the pleasure of heading East for a research trip with the CH Projects senior team. Our goal: find the best steam buns we could. Our target: MomoFuku, Ippudo, and Baohaus in New York City. We had aspirations of adding steam buns to the UnderBelly menu, and we knew that these were the top places in America to get a real taste of how to do these beauties right. We believed that the steam bun could be the next “SD Taco”, a simple base with countless fantastic combinations to experiment with to concoct a delicious steam bun.
In the 72 hours that we spent in New York, I’m pretty sure I ate over 100 steam buns. No bullshit. I couldn’t get enough of the flavors, and the simplicity of ingredients combined with the amazing texture was just mind blowing. After tasting pretty much every steam bun we could get our hands on, we started to discuss what made these all so great. What we found to be the most common denominator in a great steam bun was texture. Take a perfectly soft bun, and pair it with something nice and crunchy. We knew the options for the crunch ranged from lettuce to tempura fried items to pickled onions.
Jason:David Chang
At MomoFuko, not only were the steam buns completely brilliant, but we also just so happened to run into chef and owner David Chang. As you can imagine, this was a huge highlight of my trip, it’s always inspiring for me any time I get a chance to say hello to a leader in the Food Industry, and Mr. Chang is a true pioneer in our craft.
We headed back to San Diego with full bellies and active minds. We felt that we understood the steam bun a little more than when we headed out there, and it was time to get to work. Our goal was to bring steam buns to UnderBelly in Little Italy, and feature them as part of our new menu, coinciding with the upstairs renovation. Well the stairs are in, but there’s a little more work to be done, but we just couldn’t wait – steam buns have arrived at UnderBelly. We currently offer two variations: A Sous Vide Pork Belly Bun with Pickled Cucumber and Ginger Hoisin Mayonnaise, and a Tempura Eggplant Bun with Shiitake Mushrooms, Cilantro and Spicy Mayonnaise. Next time you stop by I hope you give one a try, we’re pretty proud of what we came up with.