You Won’t Believe Where Steamed Buns Came From

May 31, 2017

Mantou, baozi, bao, bau, humbow, nunu, bakpao, bausak, pow, pau, or paoare. You probably know them better as steamed buns. These soft, pillowy Chinese treats that have been around for hundreds of years, are eaten by hand, and can be either savory or sweet. Sometimes filled with traditional ingredients like pork, red bean paste, vegetables, or potatoes, they also can be perfect pockets for more adventurous palates when stuffed with tuna, tongue or BBQ’d pigtails.

Steamed buns originated in Northern China, where wheat, rather than rice was more prominently grown. In fact, there are many legends on exactly how steamed buns came to be. The history of steamed buns originated during the Three Kingdom Period and according to legend, a Chinese general needed to lead his army across a raging river. In order to cross safely, the people on the other side of the river demanded him to sever the heads of fifty of his men. Instead, the general decided to use large, meat-filled balls of dough as a replacement. And for whatever reason, that satisfied the head-hungry hordes. Today, steamed buns are still satisfying, and have continued to grow in popularity in the last few years.

At Ejji Ramen, we put our own edgy twist on the traditional steamed bun recipe. Here are some of the buns we’ve whipped up recently:

  • Ox Heart with shisho moho sauce, Asian pear, and parmesan cheese
  • Soft Crab with yuzu ginger aioli, pickled shishito peppers and scallions
  • Smoked Beef buns with Espresso Molé, caramelized onions & radish
  • Pulled pork with cilantro jalapeño mustard on a roasted bun
  • Seared Ahi tuts tataki (with togarashi), charred shishoto peppers, honey dashi braised lotus root, and edamame hummus.

Hungry yet?

Whether it is a seasonal ingredient or an adventurous addition, Chef Ten curates recipes to tantalize your tastebuds. Stop in to check out our daily specials to see what’s new on the menu. And if you can’t make it in but are still craving those buns, try our Scrapple Steamed Bun recipe, featured on