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An overhead view of various char siu bar, or Chinese BBQ pork buns, against a gray backdrop.
There’s a lot of good char siu bao in Greater Boston
Linda Huang/Eater

Where to Eat Char Siu Bao in and Around Boston

Chinatown is the hot spot, but the North and South shores have great options, too

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There’s a lot of good char siu bao in Greater Boston
| Linda Huang/Eater

Few sensations are more satisfying than biting into a warm, steaming piece of dough stuffed with sauce and meat, which is probably why so many cultures have their own version. Chinese cuisine features many interpretations of meat-stuffed doughs, and one of the best known is the char siu bao, a type of pork bun (“char siu” refers to the Cantonese-style barbecue pork filling, and “bao” refers to the bun itself).

A dim sum favorite, these buns typically come in two varieties: steamed (with a fluffy white bread that’s leavened with yeast, baking soda, and sometimes ammonium bicarbonate, which helps create the bun’s signature burst-open look) and baked (with a light brown, soft, yeasted sweet bread, often glazed with honey or a sugary syrup). Biting into these buns reveals a distinctive reddish (and sometimes brownish) filling of sticky, sweet sauce and chunks of savory char siu.

Char siu bao can be found in dim sum restaurants, Chinese bakeries, and Asian supermarkets (usually frozen, but sometimes fresh) throughout Greater Boston. In dim sum restaurants, char siu bao are typically sold in orders of three, and the buns are slightly smaller; in bakeries, the buns are often sold individually and tend to be larger and served at room temperature.

Here are a few tips before setting out on a char siu bao tasting:

  • Bring cash. Many spots on this map are cash only or have a minimum for credit card charges.
  • Some locations on this map only serve char siu bao as part of their dim sum service, which is typically offered at breakfast and lunch.
  • Char siu bao tends to sell out quickly at Chinese bakeries, so plan to go early.
  • Bakeries usually sell buns at room temperature. Warm the buns at home in a steamer or in the oven, or wrap the buns in a damp paper towel and zap them in the microwave for three to five seconds.

Without further ado, here are the best char siu bao in and around Boston.

Please note that a number of Boston restaurants have resumed dine-in service, and the level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: For updated information on coronavirus cases in the area, please visit the Massachusetts coronavirus website.

Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Sun Kong

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275 Eastern Ave
Malden, MA 02148
(781) 388-9900
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A longtime Malden favorite for Chinese cuisine, especially dim sum, Sun Kong offers both steamed and baked char siu bao. Dim sum is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sun Kong is open for takeout (call) and delivery (call or order online; dim sum is not available for delivery).

A cross section of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). Beige, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Baked char siu bao from Sun Kong
Linda Huang/Eater

2. Joyful Garden

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550 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA 02472
(617) 356-1234
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A popular dim sum spot in Watertown, Joyful Garden offers both steamed and baked char siu bao. For bread lovers, the baked char siu bao is not to be missed. Joyful Garden is also one of the few places that offers a baked char siu bao with a crumbly, sugary pineapple bun topping (sold as a “crispy roast pork bun”). Dim sum is served from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Joyful Garden is open for indoor dining, takeout (call or order online), and delivery via GrubHub. For large orders, it is recommended to call Joyful Garden directly.

A cross section of a steamed char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). White, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Steamed char siu bao from Joyful Garden
Linda Huang/Eater

3. 180 Cafe

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23 Edinboro St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 338-8889
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180 Cafe is one of the newest bakeries in Boston’s Chinatown, but it feels like an old-school haunt. It offers fresh, individually packaged baked char siu bao, but it also sells packs of four or eight refrigerated steamed char siu bao for heating up at home.

180 Cafe is open for indoor dining and takeout.

A cross section of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). Beige, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Baked char siu bao from 180 Cafe
Linda Huang/Eater

4. Great Taste Bakery & Restaurant

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63 Beach St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 426-8899
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Great Taste… well, its food tastes great, especially its char siu bao. The business is set up in two parts — its restaurant sits to the left, while its bakery sits to the right. Go for the steamed char siu bao on the restaurant side, or pop into the bakery to order a single baked char siu bao.

Great Taste is open for indoor dining and takeout (call or order online).

An overhead view of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun).
Look at that beautiful, shiny bun
Linda Huang/Eater

5. Hing Shing Pastry Inc

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67 Beach St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 451-1162

Hing Shing Pastry is a small bakery better known for its almond cookies, but it also offers a rustic baked char siu bao with a slightly denser bread. Grab one and enjoy it sitting in the park adjacent to the Chinatown Gate.

Hing Shing Pastry is open for takeout.

An overhead view of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun).
Baked char siu bao from Hing Shing
Linda Huang/Eater

6. Winsor Dim Sum Café

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10 Tyler St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 338-1688
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Winsor Dim Sum Café is one of the best dim sum spots in Chinatown, and it offers both steamed and baked char siu bao. The baked buns, however, are only available on weekends at the Chinatown location from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Winsor also has a location in Quincy, which offers a vegan version of char siu bao made with seitan (wheat gluten). 

Winsor is open for takeout and delivery via UberEats.

An overhead view of a steamed char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun).
Steamed char siu bao from Winsor Dim Sum Café
Linda Huang/Eater

7. May's Cake House

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223 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 350-0210

May’s Cake House is situated in a space on Harrison Avenue a few blocks south of the main Chinatown hustle and bustle, and it is doing excellent steamed and baked versions of char siu bao. Note: Buns might be hidden in the warmer behind the counter, so be sure to ask if they’re not readily available.

May’s is open for takeout and delivery via GrubHub.

A cross section of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). Beige, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Char siu bao from May’s
Linda Huang/Eater

8. Dumpling Daughter Brookline

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1309 Beacon St
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 383-5282
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Dumpling Daughter, which opened its original location in Weston in 2014, offers steamed char siu bao with a bright red filling. Buns are two per order at the Brookline location. Check its website for information about additional shops.

Dumpling Daughter is open for takeout (call or order online).

A cross section of a steamed char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). White, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Steamed char siu bao from Dumpling Daughter
Linda Huang/Eater

9. East Ocean

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21A Billings Rd
North Quincy, MA 02171
(617) 472-6868

Located in North Quincy, East Ocean offers both steamed and baked char siu bao, and both are exceptional. Dim sum is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

East Ocean is open for takeout (call or order online).

A cross section of a steamed char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). White, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Steamed char siu bao from East Ocean
Linda Huang/Eater

1. Sun Kong

275 Eastern Ave, Malden, MA 02148
A cross section of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). Beige, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Baked char siu bao from Sun Kong
Linda Huang/Eater

A longtime Malden favorite for Chinese cuisine, especially dim sum, Sun Kong offers both steamed and baked char siu bao. Dim sum is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sun Kong is open for takeout (call) and delivery (call or order online; dim sum is not available for delivery).

275 Eastern Ave
Malden, MA 02148

2. Joyful Garden

550 Arsenal St, Watertown, MA 02472
A cross section of a steamed char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). White, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Steamed char siu bao from Joyful Garden
Linda Huang/Eater

A popular dim sum spot in Watertown, Joyful Garden offers both steamed and baked char siu bao. For bread lovers, the baked char siu bao is not to be missed. Joyful Garden is also one of the few places that offers a baked char siu bao with a crumbly, sugary pineapple bun topping (sold as a “crispy roast pork bun”). Dim sum is served from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Joyful Garden is open for indoor dining, takeout (call or order online), and delivery via GrubHub. For large orders, it is recommended to call Joyful Garden directly.

550 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA 02472

3. 180 Cafe

23 Edinboro St, Boston, MA 02111
A cross section of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). Beige, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Baked char siu bao from 180 Cafe
Linda Huang/Eater

180 Cafe is one of the newest bakeries in Boston’s Chinatown, but it feels like an old-school haunt. It offers fresh, individually packaged baked char siu bao, but it also sells packs of four or eight refrigerated steamed char siu bao for heating up at home.

180 Cafe is open for indoor dining and takeout.

23 Edinboro St
Boston, MA 02111

4. Great Taste Bakery & Restaurant

63 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111
An overhead view of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun).
Look at that beautiful, shiny bun
Linda Huang/Eater

Great Taste… well, its food tastes great, especially its char siu bao. The business is set up in two parts — its restaurant sits to the left, while its bakery sits to the right. Go for the steamed char siu bao on the restaurant side, or pop into the bakery to order a single baked char siu bao.

Great Taste is open for indoor dining and takeout (call or order online).

63 Beach St
Boston, MA 02111

5. Hing Shing Pastry Inc

67 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111
An overhead view of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun).
Baked char siu bao from Hing Shing
Linda Huang/Eater

Hing Shing Pastry is a small bakery better known for its almond cookies, but it also offers a rustic baked char siu bao with a slightly denser bread. Grab one and enjoy it sitting in the park adjacent to the Chinatown Gate.

Hing Shing Pastry is open for takeout.

67 Beach St
Boston, MA 02111

6. Winsor Dim Sum Café

10 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111
An overhead view of a steamed char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun).
Steamed char siu bao from Winsor Dim Sum Café
Linda Huang/Eater

Winsor Dim Sum Café is one of the best dim sum spots in Chinatown, and it offers both steamed and baked char siu bao. The baked buns, however, are only available on weekends at the Chinatown location from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Winsor also has a location in Quincy, which offers a vegan version of char siu bao made with seitan (wheat gluten). 

Winsor is open for takeout and delivery via UberEats.

10 Tyler St
Boston, MA 02111

7. May's Cake House

223 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02111
A cross section of a baked char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). Beige, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Char siu bao from May’s
Linda Huang/Eater

May’s Cake House is situated in a space on Harrison Avenue a few blocks south of the main Chinatown hustle and bustle, and it is doing excellent steamed and baked versions of char siu bao. Note: Buns might be hidden in the warmer behind the counter, so be sure to ask if they’re not readily available.

May’s is open for takeout and delivery via GrubHub.

223 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA 02111

8. Dumpling Daughter Brookline

1309 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446
A cross section of a steamed char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). White, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Steamed char siu bao from Dumpling Daughter
Linda Huang/Eater

Dumpling Daughter, which opened its original location in Weston in 2014, offers steamed char siu bao with a bright red filling. Buns are two per order at the Brookline location. Check its website for information about additional shops.

Dumpling Daughter is open for takeout (call or order online).

1309 Beacon St
Brookline, MA 02446

9. East Ocean

21A Billings Rd, North Quincy, MA 02171
A cross section of a steamed char siu bao (Chinese BBQ pork bun). White, fluffy bread is filled with reddish BBQ pork.
Steamed char siu bao from East Ocean
Linda Huang/Eater

Located in North Quincy, East Ocean offers both steamed and baked char siu bao, and both are exceptional. Dim sum is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

East Ocean is open for takeout (call or order online).

21A Billings Rd
North Quincy, MA 02171

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