Located in the bustling Hong Kong City Mall, Bakery Ngoc Lan serves steamed buns as adorable as they are delectable.
Bakery Ngoc Lan’s sweet, Vietnamese-style filled bao buns are hand-designed to look like pigs, pandas, and even the Japanese character Hello Kitty.
The pig bun contains taro cream custard; the kitty has a mung bean cream custard inside; and the panda bun is served simple -- sweet and filling-free.
Bakery Ngoc Lan also makes seasonal specialty buns for the holidays and has created other animal buns including tigers, cows, hedgehogs, bunnies, bees, turtles and dogs.
Though they’re nowhere near as cute, the bakery’s savory buns are equally intricate. The pork buns contain ground pork, quail eggs and sausage; the combination meat buns are filled with ground pork, sausage, quail eggs and salted egg; the Chicken Mushroom buns consist of, well, ground chicken and mushroom; and the veggie buns contain tofu, mushroom, leeks and carrots. BBQ pork buns are also offered regularly.
The steamed buns are sold individually and range in price from $1.25 to $3.50. They can be purchased for take-away or steamed and eaten in the bakery.
Steamed buns originated in China and were brought to Vietnam by Cantonese immigrants. Dough is prepared in a variety of colors, wrapped around a sweet or savory pre-cooked filling, shaped, hand-decorated and finally steamed.
Bakery Ngoc Lan is located at 11209 Bellaire Boulevard in Chinatown Houston. The store operates from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, excluding Wednesdays when it’s closed. Arrive with cash in hand or prepare to pay via Venmo -- The bakery does not accept credit or debit cards. Per their social media pages, the bakery’s most popular items often sell out before closing time so place an order early if you’re hoping to snag something specific.
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