While on our usual Saturday walk last weekend, we decided to grab a quick bite to eat at a new takeaway called Mi Bao. I'd absentmindedly snapped a photo of the advertisement for "bao" outside of the door earlier in the week, and though restaurants have a habit of staying on our list for weeks (if not months) before we get around to visiting them, something about Mi Bao's promise of "Asian street food" made it seem like a more worthwhile place to revisit.
When we stepped into the narrow shop, I immediately noticed the bright and clean décor. There were three large, white tables on the left-hand side with both bench seating and wooden stools. A vaguely Asian village was artistically sketched on the wall above the tables, while the opposite wall carried a waste-to-ceiling mirror that made the space look deceptively larger. Exposed light bulbs hung in varying lengths to illuminate the room.
At the back of the shop was the small kitchen and order counter. Above it hung the menu with just three items: Dampf Bao, Reis Bao, and Reis Salat (steamed bun, rice bun, and rice salad). While it may not seem like much, I prefer when places have smaller menus so they can do what they do well. As far as we could tell, the concept was largely Chinese, though Mi Bao advertises themselves as "Asian street food".
The young woman behind the counter that day was extremely nice and happy to explain the menu to us. As it turns out, Mi Bao had only been open for about a week. As such, she seemed keen to explain the concept of the fresh, steamed buns stuffed with fresh ingredients and a little meat (or vegetarian, if we wished).
Update: When I returned a week later, Mi Bao had changed their menu to offer classic (the mixed ground meat that I had), chicken, or beef as meat options for the bao, in addition to the vegetarian with egg or cauliflower.
Fully persuaded, I decided to try the Dampf Bao Menu (steamed bun), which included a side and drink, while my husband ordered the Reis Bao (rice bun). Though they advertise as a takeaway, we decided to have a seat at the new tables to enjoy our food, and the cashier encouraged us to sit while she prepared and brought us our order. My chosen side of spring rolls came out first, along with the daily special drink of peppermint and elderberry mineral water. The tiny spring rolls were the kind that you see all over Germany, and while I could not tell if they were homemade or not (I don't think so), these were of a better quality than what I've remembered at other takeaways.
Next up came our buns. I've had Chinese steamed buns before, but never in this form factor like a sandwich. My Dampf Bao bun was light and fluffy with a little sweetness to the flavor, and it was stuffed with tons of fresh shaved carrot, lettuce, cilantro, and pickles and topped with crunchy peanuts. Inside was a kind of patty that reminded me of a German Fleischküchle with a flavor more like an American Salisbury steak. I really, really liked both the form factor, which I could see as being great for a takeaway meal, and the fresh flavors that can sometimes be hard to find when you're on-the-go.
My husband's Reis Bao was equally as new to me and as delicious as mine. He had the same meat patty, pickles, lettuce, and peanuts, but his was sandwiched between two disks of rice that resembled the halves of a bread bun. It also had a kind of spicy, cream sauce that was really nice. The cashier kindly explained when she brought the Reis Bao out that he needed to eat with both hands and gradually roll the paper back as the bun would start to fall apart the more he ate. And though it did, the mess was worth every bite.
We walked away from our meal quickly, but completely satisfied. It's nice to see a new restaurant doing something different in Stuttgart, and one that does it both simply and well. And at just 3,95€ per bun (6,95€ for the menu), the meal was extremely affordable and in a location where I can see the takeaway concept working. I really, really hope that Mi Bao finds success in Stuttgart.
Mi Bao is located behind the [m]eatery on Kronprinzstrasse 24 just a few blocks south-west from the Schlossplatz U-Bahn or east from the Stadtmitte S-Bahn stations. They are open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 until 20:00. Note that they take cash only.