Americans have always been willing to think outside the bun, but rarely about the steamed bun.
GanQiShi (甘其食), a popular Hangzhou-based baozi chain, is trying to change that. It has over 200 locations in China, and one in the US — Tom’s Baobao, located on Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts next to the Shake Shack.
41-year-old GanQiShi founder Tong Qihua (Tom Tong) opened the shop to much fanfare in July of this year and it’s apparently doing so well that he is considering expanding the Tom Baobao brand to other cities in the US, possibly the West Coast, according to China News.
However, customers seem to be only moderately happy about the restaurant’s $3 steamed buns, made with flour shipped from China and steamed up with bamboo steamers. On Yelp, the restaurant carries a 3 star rating (out of 5) with many reviewers complaining about the high price per baozi.
“THE BOTTOM LINE: How many buns is in an order? One. Oh,” wrote one disappointed customer.
“Why would you pay $5 for a bun?! The price really is upsetting. It’s merely for the hype. Dunno how this store is going to survive in the future,” wrote another
“For what you get it’s a little pricy. I had 3 baos and a drink on my latest visit and it set me back almost $17.00. For $17.00 their are better lunch options in Harvard Square,” commented another not totally satisfied customer.
Here’s one more:
Points for novelty but not for the food. VERY simple and light on the filling. My wife and I got 2 just to try. (Pork and beef) If you are a foodie who knows authentic Chinese food you will be disappointed. Come to try it if you’re curious and then have dinner/lunch elsewhere.
It’s funny cuz the newspaper article on the wall says “Tired of burgers?” and both of us simultaneously said NO! And now we’re at Shake Shack.
These guys should try eating at Shanghai Disneyland.
In the end, many said that they thought the food was ok overall, though would likely only return for the novelty of it.
Back in July, China Daily reported that Gan Qi Shi was planning to open 30 chain stores in the US over the next three to five years. We’ll have to see if America is really ready to support a moderately-priced baozi chain. Maybe Tong should try asking baozi-loving president Xi Jinping for help?
[Images via China News]