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Pork Buns at Masa 14
Pork Buns at Masa 14
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Where to Go for Addictive Pork Buns

The tasty treat is a D.C. favorite

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Pork Buns at Masa 14
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A good pork bun is a compact dish worth making a trip for.

By definition, the bun is relatively simple: A delicate, fluffy bao (bun) gets filled with pork — barbecued, slow-cooked or otherwise marinated — then lined with hoisin sauce and garnished with (depending on the chef) a range of tangy pickles or crunchy raw vegetables like scallions or carrots or cucumber. Done properly, the diversity of flavors and textures in the small-but-satisfying dish make for a transporting experience.

The good news is Washingtonians have a range of options all over town when it comes to the pork bun (no major road trips required). The D.C. dining scene has it all, from casual buns-out-of-a-food-truck via People's Bao, to those on the menu at the D.C. outpost of high-profile Momofuku downtown, to the unexpected pork bun locales like Driftwood Kitchen on H Street. Looking for a meat beyond pork? There's always The Source, which has duck bao buns on its current menu.

Here are several bun spots around town worth a try.

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Bonchon Chicken (Multiple Locations)

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They might not be what traditionally brings the diners out to Bonchon, but this fried chicken chain with locations in Arlington and Southeast D.C. does boast pork buns as a main course.

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Chaplin's Restaurant

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A devoted pork bun enthusiast can spot the dish at Chaplin’s in Shaw, almost hidden among the ramen dishes, dumplings, and other offerings. The Japanese ramen spot serves up its buns with braised pork in a spicy teriyaki sauce.

DC Noodles

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The casual atmosphere at DC Noodles on U Street belies an excellent menu. And the pork buns (appetizer) are no exception — here they’re served with cucumber, scallions, komatsuna (a kind of Japanese mustard spinach) and lemongrass hoisin sauce.

Driftwood Kitchen

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Driftwood Kitchen is, by all other indication, a restaurant devoted to hearty American or European fare like shrimp and grits or gnocchi bolognese. That's why the pork buns on the menu, served as an appetizer, stand out so much. Here the delicately steamed buns are served with pork belly, cured cucumber, crushed peanuts, and sriracha aioli.

JINYA Ramen Bar

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The Jinya bun is one of many small plate appetizers this new ramen house has on its menu. They will soon open a D.C. location as well.

Maketto

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Eric Brunner-Yang’s trendy H Street restaurant, cafe, and marketplace serves pork steam bao on its informal lunch, more upscale dinner, and weekend dim sum menus. Pork buns are essentially always available at Maketto.

Masa 14

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pork buns at this Asian-Latin fusion spot have some exciting ingredients beyond the norm. These pork belly-dominated buns come with achiote, pineapple sambal, cilantro, and serrano chili (and they’re one of the restaurant’s most popular items). Find them on the dinner menu.

Momofuku CCDC

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David Chang’s Momofuku outpost in CCDC is home to a variety of flavors of steam buns. The pork buns served here at lunch and dinner are simple: pork flanked by hoisin sauce and topped with scallions and cucumber.

Nick Solares/Eater.com

People's Bao

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People’s certainly serves the most mobile buns on this list. This food truck takes pride in using natural ingredients and sustainable packaging. The truck is often around popular office locations like Chinatown or Capitol South during the workweek lunch hour — check Twitter for an up-to-date location.

Reren Lamen & Bar

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The buns at this Chinatown spot come under the name “bun’s sandwich” and can be served with pork belly or chicken.

Sakuramen

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This Adams Morgan ramen bar also boasts steamed buns as an appetizer option. The pork buns come one of two ways: “spicy sweet” with mushrooms, lettuce and scallion, or with pork belly and peppered scallion.

The pork buns at this trendy Chinatown restaurant and lounge can be found on both the lunch and dinner menus. The buns top pork belly with pickled cucumber and roasted peanuts.

Bonchon Chicken (Multiple Locations)

They might not be what traditionally brings the diners out to Bonchon, but this fried chicken chain with locations in Arlington and Southeast D.C. does boast pork buns as a main course.

Official

Chaplin's Restaurant

A devoted pork bun enthusiast can spot the dish at Chaplin’s in Shaw, almost hidden among the ramen dishes, dumplings, and other offerings. The Japanese ramen spot serves up its buns with braised pork in a spicy teriyaki sauce.

DC Noodles

The casual atmosphere at DC Noodles on U Street belies an excellent menu. And the pork buns (appetizer) are no exception — here they’re served with cucumber, scallions, komatsuna (a kind of Japanese mustard spinach) and lemongrass hoisin sauce.

Driftwood Kitchen

Driftwood Kitchen is, by all other indication, a restaurant devoted to hearty American or European fare like shrimp and grits or gnocchi bolognese. That's why the pork buns on the menu, served as an appetizer, stand out so much. Here the delicately steamed buns are served with pork belly, cured cucumber, crushed peanuts, and sriracha aioli.

JINYA Ramen Bar

The Jinya bun is one of many small plate appetizers this new ramen house has on its menu. They will soon open a D.C. location as well.

Maketto

Eric Brunner-Yang’s trendy H Street restaurant, cafe, and marketplace serves pork steam bao on its informal lunch, more upscale dinner, and weekend dim sum menus. Pork buns are essentially always available at Maketto.

Masa 14

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pork buns at this Asian-Latin fusion spot have some exciting ingredients beyond the norm. These pork belly-dominated buns come with achiote, pineapple sambal, cilantro, and serrano chili (and they’re one of the restaurant’s most popular items). Find them on the dinner menu.

Momofuku CCDC

David Chang’s Momofuku outpost in CCDC is home to a variety of flavors of steam buns. The pork buns served here at lunch and dinner are simple: pork flanked by hoisin sauce and topped with scallions and cucumber.

Nick Solares/Eater.com

People's Bao

People’s certainly serves the most mobile buns on this list. This food truck takes pride in using natural ingredients and sustainable packaging. The truck is often around popular office locations like Chinatown or Capitol South during the workweek lunch hour — check Twitter for an up-to-date location.

Reren Lamen & Bar

The buns at this Chinatown spot come under the name “bun’s sandwich” and can be served with pork belly or chicken.

Sakuramen

This Adams Morgan ramen bar also boasts steamed buns as an appetizer option. The pork buns come one of two ways: “spicy sweet” with mushrooms, lettuce and scallion, or with pork belly and peppered scallion.

Sei

The pork buns at this trendy Chinatown restaurant and lounge can be found on both the lunch and dinner menus. The buns top pork belly with pickled cucumber and roasted peanuts.

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