It all started on a warm, rainy afternoon in Chinatown. I had been seriously craving baked pork buns the last few days and decided I’d head downtown after work to get some. If your not familiar with Chinese pork buns there are two main types: steamed and baked. Steamed buns are more dense and doe-y. Baked buns are lighter, similar to a sweet bread. And of course they’re both filled with delicious pork.I wasn’t familiar enough with the pork bun scene to know where I could find the best so I did a quick online search. There was a lot of hype around a place called Mei Li Wah Bakery. So I headed for Bayard St. On the way there another bakery caught my eye. I remembered seeing the name Fay Da during my “Chinatown’s best pork bun” search. So I figured I’d stop in and get some buns from there and decide for myself which is really the best. And thus spawned Battle Pork Bun.
It was a very humid day and the clouds were rolling in. I knew it was about to pour, big time. I had just enough time to pick up 4 pork buns, at 90 cents a pop, from the small, hole in the wall, Mei Li Wah. I wasn’t even down the block when it started down pouring! Of course I had no umbrella and wore the most rain friendly shoes ever; flip flops. So I parked myself under an awning, treated myself to a nice warm pork bun, and waited out the rain. I love Chinatown. It has so much character.
Finally the rain slowed enough for me to get going. But I was still dreading the slippery flip flop situation. Then I remembered I had socks in my purse (from work) so I did what no one should ever do. Socks and flip flops baby! I probably looked like a crazy person but I was on a mission! Fay Da Bakery appears to be recently renovated and doesn’t have the same sketchy-hole-in-the-wall charm as Mei Li Wah. Their pork buns are a whopping 20 cents more at $1.10 each (gotta love cheap and tasty eats). Pork buns in hand, I practically ran home to Jersey.
There are a couple of things I look for in a good pork bun. First, the bun itself. Is it light and fluffy? Is it too sweet or just sweet enough. What about size? Both MLW and Fay Da’s buns were the perfect texture and sweetness. As for size, Fay Da’s buns are noticeably larger.
Next is the meat to bun ratio. Upon cutting the buns in half I can’t help but be slightly disapointed in the Fay Da bun. It’s larger, but has a smaller meat to bun ratio.
Now for the most important part; the pork. Fay Da uses shredded pork. MLW uses diced pork. I have to say I’m partial to the shredded pork. As for flavor, both buns have their own distinct flavor. Both are pretty tasty but I have to go with Fay Da’s pork bun on this one too. I like to dress my pork buns with sweet soy, sriracha, scallion bias, and toasted sesame seeds. The combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy is perfection!
So who is the victor in battle pork bun? It’s hard for me to say. I liked aspects of both buns.
I’ll let you be the judge.