Take A Bao — Surprisingly Not Bad for Asian Mall Food

15 Jun


It doesn’t sound promising: a mall food court kiosk serving Asian fusion food made by white guys. I don’t think either of the principals has any background in Asian cuisine. But they manage to pull off a decent meal — as long as you don’t mistake this for actual Asian food.

Located in the Century City mall, Take a Bao straddles the line between food court and full-service. They serve beer and wine alongside their Californian take on Asian-ish cuisine. Sure, you order in line and take a number like you would at Sbarro, but the food that comes out (on real plates) is really not bad. The reference point is that Asian cashew salad they are selling at Costco these days. It has Asian-ish ingredients (sesame seeds, wonton strips) and a vaguely Asian taste, but would seem totally foreign to everyone in any of the countries it is aping. But the result is still worth eating.

 

I got the meal with two baos, the side napa salad, and some sumac fries. The salad is pretty great: mostly cabbage and carrots with wonton strips (not a real Chinese ingredient) and a sweet dressing. It’s substantial and would be a pretty decent meal by itself. (and is also very similar to that Costco Asian salad)

 

First bao was the panko crusted cod on a whole wheat bao. As an initial matter, you have to get over your first thoughts about what awful whites dudes do Asian food. Whole wheat bao? Deep fried battered fish on baos?

 

The signature bbq pork bao is not really more traditional. This is not bbq pork like you would expect from a Chinese butcher or dim sum place. And you would never see tamarind sauce on it.

But as long as you’re not expecting actual Asian food, it’s really pretty good.

 

The sumac fries are OK.

 

Take a Bao
Century City Mall
10250 santa monica boulevard
los angeles california 90067
310 551 1100

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