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Bun’d Up Is Opening an Arlington Shop for Pillowy Steamed Bao With Korean Fillings

The Union Market stall will move into Pentagon Row next month

A takeout tray with mushroom, pork belly, and Korean barbecue beef buns from Bun’s Up.
From the top, mushroom, pork belly, and Korean barbecue beef buns from Bun’s Up.
Danny Kim/For Bun’d Up

Bun’d Up, the Union Market stall that sells Taiwanese steamed buns with Korean fillings, will open its first standalone store in Arlington next month, bringing gua bao with miso-braised pork belly and pineapple kimchi, barbecued beef with gochujang, or sauteed mushrooms and fried shallots across the Potomac River.

Chef-owner Scott Chung plans to open the location for lunch and dinner at Pentagon Row (1201 S Joyce Street) on Thursday, December 5. The new location will give him a chance to expand the menu by experimenting with Korean street foods like spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki), kimchi pancakes, and a variety of soups and stews. Korean tacos are another possibility.

Chung says he’s secured the lease for a year and a half. Operating hours will be Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. to start.

Three buns from Bun’d Up
Bun’d up will add fried chicken and shrimp to its lineup of fillings.
Danny Kim/For Bun’d Up
A stack of Taiwanese split buns
Bun’d up bakes all of its own split buns
Danny Kim/For Bun’d Up

Although Chung and his staff spend six to eight hours per day baking the buns, he has to cook the fillings in a commercial kitchen and assemble the buns at the Northeast food hall. He’s looking forward to cooking everything on-site, and he’s especially excited about having a fryer to make Korean chicken and shrimp for buns and bowls.

“Now that we have a full-on kitchen, we’re going to go pretty out there with some of the things,” Chung says.

Bun’d Up’s standalone shop will serve customers two ways. They can buy buns right away up front, or take a number for more work-intensive dishes and have food runners deliver them. Chung doesn’t anticipate getting a full liquor license, but he says the shop could eventually add beer and wine service.

A dessert “PB&J” bun with cashew butter, banana jam, and granola from Bun’d Up
A dessert “PB&J” bun with cashew butter, banana jam, and granola
Danny Kim/For Bun’d Up

Chung also owns the Rice Crook stall that serves Korean bowls, wraps, and salads at food halls in Ballston and Baltimore. He says he’s been dreaming about buns ever since tasting his first Momofuku pork bun in New York years ago. Even back then, before he went to culinary school, his mother encouraged him to learn how to make bao. He helped open the Marumen ramen shop in Fairfax, starting the bun program there, and took Bun’d Up to its first farmers market in 2016.

Chung says what sets his shop apart is a dedication to making its own buns. The yeasted dough doesn’t come out perfectly white or uniform, which he says lets customers know how hard he’s been working.

“You know when you get bleach-white buns” that it’s a frozen product, he says.