Light, airy, soft and oozing with deliciousness, bao buns—steamed bread hailing from Asia that can be served as burgers or sandwiches—have invaded the Athenian street food scene. Do you want to have a bit of Asian cuisine while in Athens? Here are the best places to get bao buns in the Greek capital.
Located in Halandri, Mr. Pug’s Canteen is a small food joint that specializes in two food items only: bao buns and churros. As such, they have developed several versions that pack a flavorful punch, fully converting you to the steamed goodness. Plus, you can always end your meal on a high (sweet) note with an order of hot, yummy churros.
In the residential area of Nea Smyrni, Mr. Dim has introduced staples of Asian-inspired street food to Greek audiences. Just as the name suggests, Mr. Dim serves delicious dim sum, among other things, but it also offers mouthwatering bao buns and bao burgers to the masses. While you can always make the short trip to Nea Smyrni, Mr. Dim also delivers as long as you are staying in the vicinity.
A pocket-sized eatery in the heart of Athens, less than five minutes from Syntagma Square, Pink Flamingo Dim Sum is another excellent spot when it comes to bao buns. The selection changes according to what’s on hand (or the mood) and includes a variety of fresh ingredients, tasty sauces, and seasonings; there is always something new to try. Plus, vegetarian and vegan options are also available to cater to all tastes.
Since its opening, Nolan has been the talk of the town—and for good reason. This restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Sotiris Kontizas, a MasterChef Greece judge, and has an innovative menu that differs from the usual spots in the city. Nolan’s menu, which blends Asian and European flavors according to Kontizas’s roots, is a favorite of Athenian foodies, and it includes a decadent bao bun dish, with juicy pork meat and apricot jam. The whole thing melts in your mouth; you will no doubt want more. Itadakimasu!
If you find yourself stuck at the Port of Piraeus waiting for your boat and feel some hunger pangs coming on, then head straight to Barrio Street, a cool food joint in the Troumpa area. There, order one of the tasty bao burger options available, and pair it with soup (or not), a salad or whatever you want. The bread is light and the seasoning on point; you will leave Barrio happy and satisfied. Plus, now you have an extra excuse to visit Piraeus, besides the port.
A tiki-inspired bar and restaurant in the heart of Metaxourgeio, The Big Kahuna is the place to be for scrumptious burgers (such as the aptly named 65 Napkins), including a bao version, named Kung Pao, which includes grilled duck meat, fried noodles, homemade pickled cucumbers and hoisin mayonnaise. Wash it all down with one (or two) of the excellent cocktails, and you have the recipe for a successful night and a full stomach.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, Greek, $$$
The menu at rooftop restaurant Hytra changes with the seasons | Courtesy of Hytra
On the top floor of the Onassis Cultural Center on Syggrou Avenue, Hytra is an excellent place for divine food and drinks. While it may not be the first address that comes to mind for bao buns and burgers, this elegant restaurant does, indeed, serve the small Asian steamed buns, served with pork, red cabbage kimchi, and a decadent plum sauce.