I’ve heard that it’s protocol to bow to a king. The king isn’t always deserving, but there’s that whole “off with his head” thing the king has up his sleeve, so it’s probably best to just go with it.
But at a new storefront eatery in the Mills 50 district, the king baos back.
King Bao is the latest to step up to the current trend of serving bao, the Asian taco-like food delivery devices fashioned out of puffy steamed dough that resemble overweight, pale tortillas.
Just like any other bread, the dough itself isn’t the main feature; it’s what goes inside that counts.
King Bao’s menu has just two main sections: baos and tots. Because if there is any other food item that is currently as trendy as bao it’s totted potatoes.
There are eight bao on the KB menu board and offer a thoughtful representation of most popular proteins, including a couple that do not come from an animal. They range in price from $3 to $3.75.
For seven bucks or nine bucks you can get a combo with two or three bao, respectively, plus a drink. (There’s an upcharge for a seafood bao, but the menu doesn’t say how up.)
I went with the three for nine option. I ordered the Hogazilla, the Kickin Chicken, and the Glen Rhee Bao.
Glenn Rhee is the name of the fictional character on The Walking Dead played by Steven Yeun. TWD, as you may know, features zombies that stumble about with gizzards and guts hanging out of large body wounds, so it’s best not to think too carefully about what’s in the bao that bears his name. Actually, it’s a Korean style short rib garnished with a slaw of Asian pear and a topping of fresh cilantro.
The chicken gets its kick from kimchi and a bit of sriracha to decorate the fried bird.
The Hogzilla Bao featured braised pork belly with pickled carrots and daikon and a sprinkling of crushed honey roasted peanuts.
I thought I would prefer the hog, but the chicken was the one that stood out with its extra layers of spicing. But all were good and worth having again.
I also tried one of the tot selections, because I’m a slave to fashionable food trends. I ordered the Porky’s Tatchos, which, apparently, were supposed to be a version of nachos with processed potato plugs instead of tortilla chips. It was a rather small serving, considering the price of $3 (the favorable food cost is why restaurants are putting these things on so many menus, by the way). But the cheese sauce (emphasis on the sauce) with sour cream and especially the slices of bright, hot jalapenos made them pretty tasty. (Kitchen might want to let them drain a little bit after pulling them out of the fryer, just a suggestion.)
The space, the former Raphsodic vegan bakery, is rather austere, decorated by only a few unframed photos of Orlando scapes. It’s a much larger space than I recalled, with a kitchen that is essentially part of the main room. Without any clutter, it’s evident that it is a clean and tidy place. The staff wasn’t as welcoming as, say, the folks at the also-new Black Rooster up the road, but they weren’t rude, either.
There are a few really uncomfortable looking stools and a counter along a wall for those who want to dine in. I chose to take my order home to my castle.
King Bao is at 710 N. Mills Ave., Orlando (parking on Mills but also a lot behind the restaurant — watch out for king-size potholes). It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. A listed website does not seem to be operational; the link in the name will take you to the Facebook page. The phone number is 407-237-0013.