Taste Test: Nice Buns

These delectable little clouds of dough embrace simple to complex fillings in a soft, pillowy hug before they are steamed to perfection.
Photography by Tony Valainis

Lil Dumplings Noodle Bar

Carlos Salazar started making steamed buns when he worked at Oakleys Bistro back in 2011. Now, his Garage crew rotates between two and four creative variations each day. “Our bestselling steamed bun is our Korean pork belly with kimchi cucumber,” he says. 926 Carrollton Ave., 317-418-4227

Asian Snack

Worth seeking out in the sprawling westside Saraga International Grocery store, this humble vendor steams up textbook pork buns for customers who crave the real deal. 3605 Commercial Dr., 317-297-1072

Tiger Lily 2

Fusing Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Korean influences, this casual Hamilton County lunch and dinner spot updates traditional bao buns with chunks of boneless chicken, fresh cucumber slices, carrot matchsticks, and a house-made spicy mayo. 7262 Fishers Crossing Dr., Fishers, 317-516-1914

Wei Ramen

Come for the ramen, stay for the savory buns stuffed with roasted pork or chicken. There’s also a lightly breaded eggplant tempura version on offer so vegetarians won’t feel left out. 36 E. Washington St., 317-280-7599


Modita relies on a Japanese coal-fired robata grill to caramelize pork belly for its sweet and smoky bao buns, a mainstay on the Asian-inspired eatery’s menu since it opened in 2021. Wisps of fresh slaw and a rich miso aioli complete this handy snack. 850 Massachusetts Ave., 317-316-0470