On the lookout to select up my to-go purchase from Bao Bei, a Taiwanese ghost kitchen strategy that 26-12 months-previous Gaithersburg indigenous Kevin Hsieh commenced working in June, I drive to the rear of a compact industrial complex off Parklawn Drive. Recognizing various parked foodstuff vans, I know I’m in the appropriate place: Farmland Industrial Kitchen, a accredited communal kitchen in which many nearby entrepreneurs with out brick-and-mortar amenities run.

I ring the buzzer and Hsieh hands me my buy: his signature Bao Bei bao (a Whopper-sized steamed wheat-centered bun filled with thick slices of braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens and chopped, brittle-like peanut “sugar”) a minced pork stomach rice bowl with pickled greens, cilantro and a soy-braised difficult-boiled egg cucumber and wooden ear mushroom salad and brown sugar swirly buns with condensed milk. My intention is to just take everything home, but the Bao Bei, an irresistible amalgam of sweetness, saltiness, richness and a kick of acid from the greens, does not make it out of the ton. (Bao Bei usually means “precious darling” in Chinese, but bao also mean “bun,” so the name is a engage in on words and phrases.)

Lifestyle had been on observe for Hsieh. He graduated from Gaithersburg Superior School, attained a B.S. in finance from UMBC in 2017 and got a terrific task as a economic analyst with a promising vocation forward of him. There was only a person difficulty, Hsieh clarifies. “The job didn’t occupy my brain as I preferred it to, so I got the strategy to sell my nostalgic childhood foods. I grew up in the Rockville region, where by there is a myriad of Asian food—Japanese, Korean, Chinese—but not significantly Taiwanese.” He had a good mentor. His father, Peter, who now manages Ginger restaurant at the MGM Countrywide Harbor, is a chef who worked in quite a few D.C.-space dining places while Hsieh was developing up, which include Taipei Cafe and Significantly East Cafe in Rockville.

Hsieh’s concept is based on avenue foods at night time markets in Taiwan, in which his mother and father would just take him on journeys to their hometown, Taipei Town, and where he went on a exploration eating trip just before starting up Bao Bei. He’s developing the small business little by little. He debuted his Bao Bei bun at a street marketplace pop-up in D.C. in September 2019, selling out 250 buns in a pair of several hours, then sold 800 a 7 days later on at the Attraction Town Night time Market place pageant in Baltimore just as swiftly. When COVID hit, he experienced to rethink the competition company model and decided on the ghost kitchen, supplying shipping and takeout. For now, Hsieh is a a person-man operation and presents only the merchandise I purchased moreover vegetarian versions of the bao and bowl made with braised tofu (bao: $7.95 bowl: $11.95). He helps make every little thing himself (which includes more than 800 steamed wheat buns a 7 days by hand) and fills all the orders. The long-range prepare is to open a brick-and-mortar cafe in the Rockville location in just the next two several years.

Bao Bei, 11910 Parklawn Travel (in the rear of the complex), North Bethesda, 240-750-5618, baobei.menu

Restaurant Comings & Goings

Kensington-primarily based Java Nation, which opened its third site in Gaithersburg’s Kentlands progress in May, introduced plans to open a twin concept (an specific coffee bar and a entire-provider cafe) in downtown Silver Spring in the initially quarter of 2023.

D.C.-location chainlet Andy’s Pizza, owned by Montgomery County indigenous Andy Brown, declared plans to open its very first Maryland spot in Bethesda in early 2023.

A locale of South Korea-based mostly bakery Paris Baguette is scheduled to open in Rockville City Center this winter season.

In Gaithersburg, Teriyaki Express Japanese grill closed in August.

Republic restaurant in Takoma Park closed in September after almost a decade.

Bun’d Up, which specializes in Korean American riffs on Taiwanese gua bao (loaded buns), closed its Pike & Rose spot (in The Block) in September. Also at The Block, Anh-mazing Viet Kitchen area closed in September.

David Hagedorn is the restaurant critic for Bethesda Magazine.

This tale seems in the November/December 2022 problem of Bethesda Journal.

By Taba