Introducing: Mean Bao, the Chinatown bao shop’s new Queen West location
Name: Mean Bao
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact Info: 167 Bathurst St., 416-862-7737, meanbaotoronto.com
Previously: A short-lived burger shop called Burger Press
Chefs/Owners: Both the original location and this new outpost are co-owned by Jones and James Cheung, along with their nephew and niece Scott Ching and Erin Cheung. Everyone plays a role in the family business, including grandma.
The Food: Silky bao are piled with savoury ingredients, like peppery barbecue chicken with pickled daikon, or house-braised pork belly topped with a crunchy mixture of peanuts and black sugar. The “Sloppy Jones” is a bao-ified version of dan dan mien, a traditional Szechuan noodle dish made with minced pork, chili oil and scallions.
The Drinks: The soda selection includes highly coveted bottles of Schweppes Cream Soda, imported all the way from Hong Kong. (Co-owners Scott and Erin have fond memories of chugging back bottles while visiting their grandmother there.)
The Place: Mean Bao’s second location is a casual grab-and-go counter with a handful of bar stools for dining in. The mainly DIY design includes a classic peg-board menu and a self-serve saucing station stocked with interesting vinegars and hot sauces.