With so-called hipster Asian food sweeping through America, steamed buns are showing up on menus in both recognizable and innovative ways.
Little Viet Garden
New to the Eden Center late last year, Little Viet Garden serves sumptuous roasted pork belly with a few strands of cabbage, cucumber and carrot in a gleaming white bun. // Order: banh bao xep ($7.95), 6783 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church, 703-532-1069
This Asian fusion restaurant, resurrected from its downtown D.C. location that closed more than five years ago, pulls inspiration from around the Pacific by combining panko-crusted shrimp, kimchi jicama slaw and spicy sauce flavored with yuzu. // Order: panko tempura shrimp ($11), 7900 Westpark Drive, Tysons Corner
Dubbed JFC, this Japanese-style fried chicken captured in a soft bun and slathered in a gochujang glaze is a medley of textures and tastes matching crunchy with soft and sweet with hot. // Order: Japanese fried chicken ($11), 4000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Minced pork, snappy bits of string bean and fermented black beans combine for a salty, funky, powerful punch. This sandwich is a DIY assembly job, with the chopped salad barely staying inside of the cushy buns, but the effort is worth it. Dab it into the hot, salty, syrupy sauce that’s a gift to the table. // Order: minced pork string bean with dry black bean ($13.95), 8041 Centreville Road, Manassas