Location – 175 W. Jackson (Van Buren and Financial), 835 N. Michigan (Water Tower) and 1 W. Wacker (Lake and State)
In one word – Bun-elicious
Foo d – As I was surveying my latest credit card bill, I realized there was an alarming trend – six purchases from WowBao in one month! Obviously I have an addiction. You might be familiar with the Wow Bao’s concept, the Chinese bun (meat inside a doughy bun). I know initially it sounds weird – meat in a steamed bun, but I beg you, don’t judge it until you try it. If you aren’t feeling bun-ny, try one of their rice bowls. I turn to the teriayaki chicken rice bowl but have also heard good things about the kung pao chicken rice bowl and the vegetable rice bowl. Ready for dessert? Order the coconut custard bao (bun). I have yet to have something there that I do not like and find that it is perfect for lunch when I’m at work. I’m really curious about the Breakfast Bao. If anyone has tried it, please let me know your thoughts.
Drink – If you like real ginger, try their ginger ale. I love it because it makes you feel energized without any caffeine. You can also order a pomegranate ginger ale, but that felt a little too Jamba Juice for me.
Service – This is essentially a healthy fast food spot. Their attempts to create efficient lines sometimes backfire, but I forgive them. If your wait for food is long, they’ll offer you a free drink. I feel good about places that give you free stuff…I mean, show they appreciate you as a customer.
Dress – Looks don’t matter at Wow Bao. Wear whatever you want. However, here’s what to expect of your fellow patrons. If you’re in the Loop locations, you’ll see the working crowd – suits, button-down shirts and skirts. At the Water Tower location, it’s all shoppers (many of them from out of town). Look for teenyboppers wearing sweatshirts, tight jeans and Uggs.
Cost – I usually get a rice bowl and a dessert bao, which I save for the afternoon. Total cost is about $7.50. That’s average if you’re looking for lunch in the Loop.
If you like, try…the bakeries of Chinatown, Big Bowl (one guy developed the recipes for both Wow Bao and Big Bowl)