Bao SF storefront
Bao at 590 Valencia St. SF

The arrival of Bao SF brought me such joy!  As far as I know, the Mission didn’t have a dedicated dumpling house before now. As we transition back to eating inside restaurants, including some of my favorite downtown Denver restaurants, Bao offers a lovely dining room (they also have outdoor seating), accented by the front window views of the dumpling-meisters hard at work in their pristine cubicle. However, I picked up food to go, before the in-house restaurant dining bans were lifted.

We ordered a heap of bao. 

Bao SF chefs at work
Bao SF interior.

The greenies were cabbage and pork, and a favorite of mine, although the texture, while light and fluffy, was more like a steamed pork bun. The steamed scallop and shrimp dumplings were pure delicacy, with a luscious, slippery texture. I could have eaten 20 of these. 

I also really liked the baked wasabi with sticky rice and Chinese sausage; interesting texturally and flavor-wise, and hearty, though I thought there would be more of a wasabi kick. The pan-fried kimchi potstickers were good, but they also had no real heat. The xiao long bao are the only ones I really took exception to.  I don’t believe they’re made in-house (I could be wrong), and you can tell. They’re very flat, so there’s not a lot of filling or broth, and the pork ball was simply not very flavorful. As the star of any bao house, for me, these are the ones I was most looking forward to. Alas, I would not get them again. 

And finally, we had the baked BBQ pork bao, the BF’s favorite, although I think he thought we were getting the steamed ones (which they do have). These were quite different from those: the buns were crackly and a little sweet, but the filling was plentiful with a nice-but-not-too-much sweetness.

Bao Take-Out
Bao SF takeout.

I have to be honest: everything suffered a bit from not eating them on site, but thank goodness we can all do that now!

There are so many more dumplings and bao on offer (baked, pan fried, deep fried, and steamed), including some veggie options, and some cute and creative desserts.  I understand the menu will be expanding too.  I can’t wait to go back and try them all freshly hot and steamy, as they were meant to be enjoyed.

Bao SF (website)
590 Valencia St.
415 658-7453

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  1. The new Mission… a food review and with no mention of prices. BTW $7 dollars for siu-mai, which is 100% more than you will pay at some of the greatest dimsum in the city.I wonder what that heap cost her? Another place that only the new deep pocketed residents can afford. And of course, it will keep them from ever venturing allllll the way to one of SF’s amazing Chinese neighborhoods that need the business.

    1. Dear March,

      Peoples perception of what food costs is grossly outdated. For you to eat cheap food, the workers in the restaurant industry have to suffer.

      And please stop making assumptions on what others are doing.

      Great addition to the Mission.

    2. Anything in that area is going to be overpriced and catering to wealthy young tech workers who aren’t price conscious.

  2. Fabulous Wrte-Up! I’m not sure this restaurant will meet my extremely high expectations, but your write-up has wetted my curiously.