Try Bao at Ann Arbor’s Bao Space

Walk into Bao Space at 205 North Main Street and you will find a comfy but functional restaurant serving bao.

Bao is a traditional Chinese steamed bun. At Bao Space, they have various sweet and savory fillings.

“My parents are in the food industry. That’s why I opened a restaurant here,” Bao Space Owner Rongrong Zhu said.

Zhu came to Ann Arbor from China five years ago. She opened Bao Space, her first restaurant, last January.

Pixar fans will almost certainly remember the Academy Award-winning 2019 short film of the same name. It was playing on a TV screen above the main counter when we recently visited the restaurant. Music also sometimes plays gently in the background of Bao Space.

The fun thing about bao is the sheer number of varieties you can come up with. You can have something meaty like their popular Berkshire beef and mushroom bao. You can also try the surprisingly sweet, almost chocolate-y red bean buns; all encased in bao’s characteristically chewy dough.

Fried dumplings, tofu salads and various soups are also available at Bao Space.

As customers indulge in Bao Space’s comfort food, they are also presented with very kind and accommodating service. Zhu and her team work well under pressure and do their best to serve customers efficiently. 

Bao has been made in one form or another for thousands of years in China, but the Shanghai native is planning on experimenting.

Zhu is plan to work with with new types of bao as her business approaches its first anniversary this fall. For example, she said she is experimenting with culinary fusion by incorporating maple syrup into future recipes once the leaves start to turn. If that yet-to-arrive recipe proves a success – who knows what Zhu might come up with next?

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