Across the street from campus on the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Bonnie Ave., a new Chinese restaurant Bun Bun Bao has recently opened its doors to the public. This restaurant has plans to bring authentic Asian culture into our community with their dishes and drinks.
Students have anticipated trying the new food since their “opening soon” sign first appeared. With limited food options in the area and on campus, there has been a sort of need for diversity amongst the lunch and dinner options nearby.
“I’m really excited because anytime my friend and I would walk past the ‘coming soon’ poster we would always say how bad we wanted to try it because it looked so good,” PCC student Maitlyn Pezzo said.
Pezzo is not the only one who is excited to try their food and the reopening of the campus will be favorable for the new business in this hard economic environment.
When first walking into the restaurant I was greeted with live flowers and a consistent theme of red throughout the walls, tables, and chairs. There are two registers to the left once you enter and places to sit directly ahead. The large windows allow sunlight to brighten the inside. I was then helped by a young lady by the name of Sammantha Sanchez. She was especially kind to me and my sister who knew little about the food or what we should try.
After telling us her favorite dish (the pizza bao), she was eager to recommend things she thought we might like. We decided to try the Teri Bao and the Lo Mai Gai. We only waited about ten minutes before we received our food. Everything came in a neat little box that looked carefully prepared. As we opened up our food we saw that the Lo Mai Gai was wrapped in some sort of green leaf. My sister and I embarrassingly did not know whether the leaf was part of the dish or just the way it was prepared. I ended up doing the walk of shame to the register in order to find out. Instead of shooting me a look that would allude to the fact that I am completely ignorant, the cashier just sort of chuckled along with me and told me that you do not in fact eat the leaf! I felt so relieved that the worker was so kind and made me feel welcome and comfortable when trying out an unfamiliar dish.
Aside from the great service, the food itself was delicious. The Teri Bao we had tried was so soft on the outside and perfectly hot and steamy in the center. The bao was honestly way bigger than I had even expected and came with two per order. It was just slightly larger than my fist. Just one order of those was enough to more than satisfy my hunger. The Lo Mai Gai was served hot and the rice inside was soft and filled with flavor. It was very dense and was cooked evenly throughout. Nothing about the meal was undesirable. Even the price was affordable. Our bill for two huge Teri Baos and two Lo Mai Gais was $14.34 (including tax). Considering the two of us left very full and satisfied, I would proudly say we got our money’s worth!
Bun Bun Bao, while showcasing their savory and soft buns, they also serve karaage chicken— a staple in Los Angeles boba culture. Tasting this crunchy on the outside, and soft and tender chicken popcorn was an absolute highlight. It was fresh from the fryer, an absolute perfect balance of seasoning by itself. But when dipped in the orange sauce, glistening in a shiny glaze of sweet and sour created a bite that might have been similar to a Korean Sticky Sesame chicken wing. They also have a spicy mayo, a more creamy feel for a more savory taste of the chicken. I would definitely order the chicken karaage and fries for some snacks in between some study sessions or after a midterm for a celebratory popcorn chicken.
Although Bun Bun Bao has great service as well as food, they aren’t getting the business they were hoping for in their early weeks of opening. Pasadena City College had unfortunately remained online for the first two weeks of this spring semester due to the rapid spike in COVID-19 cases. This meant that students who would usually be on campus remained—and ate—at home.
“We were actually kind of disappointed. We thought a lot of customers were gonna come in and we were actually pretty excited for that,” Sammantha Sanchez said.
She explained how her and her team could feel the lack of people in the area due to the closed campus.
The pandemic has made owning a small business nearly impossible to do and has closed many local shops and stores. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 43% of small businesses have closed; nearly all of these closures are due to COVID-19. Seeing a new business open locally is very exciting and I am rooting for the success of our most recent food addition.
Bun Bun Bao has the service and quality food that makes for a great restaurant. They also have plans to continue expanding their menu and they are also working on creating a rewards system. This will make their customers have benefits for coming in frequently and being loyal customers. If you are in the area, I recommend you go out and give them a try.
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