Tom's BaoBao, an offshoot of Tong's popular chain of 200 restaurants in China, is opening its first US outpost in Harvard square on July 12, 2016, and will serve fresh handmade steamed buns in traditional flavors like pork with scallion and ginger, curry beef, chicken with cabbage, sweet potato vegetarian and a seasonal choice, which is currently lobster bao.
The owner is an engineer from China named Tong Qihua or "Tom" as he is known in America. Tom ran baozi restaurants in China for years with almost 200 branches across China's Yangtze River Delta region. Tom's serves only bao, steamed buns that combine authentic recipes with contemporary ingredients. All of the buns and stuffing used in his shops have a precise weight, within a 2-gram error range, and are cooked in traditional bamboo steamers.
Tom's BaoBao at Harvard square welcoming Harvard students and teachers to buy the baozi for US $3 per bun.
The company, which goes by the name Gan Qi Shi Bao Bao in its homeland, was first launched in 2009, and now serves over 70 million bao a year, with annual revenues of $30 million. It's found success in bringing upscale ingredients to the common Chinese dish, which can often be bought in street stalls throughout the country. The same principles have made fortunes for the founders of fast-casual restaurants like Shake Shack, Danny Meyer's burger behemoth that now has locations in 10 countries outside the United States.
"甘其食"公司创立于2009年，目前每年生产超过7000万个包子，年收入达到3000万美元。它的成功源自于把高档的食材融入到那些可以在大街上随意购买到的普通中国食物中。这一秘诀也让以巨无霸汉堡包闻名的Shake Shake快餐店的创始人丹尼•迈耶获得了巨大财富，目前Shake Shake在除美国以外的10个国家都开设了分店。
Tong said he selected Boston as his first international storefront because he immediately loved the city during a visit in 2014, and then learned that it was a sister city to his current home, Hangzhou. After opening here, he hopes to bring bao to 20 to 30 more locations in the next five years.
But he's not in any hurry. "We will take our time to build a brand," he said. "Not everyone can be a baoist."