We’ve had King Bao for about four years. Now we have Bao’s Castle. You’d think they might have some royal connection, but despite the monarchial monikers they are unrelated.
Bao’s Castle reigns over the SoDo Shopping Center. (Who am I kidding? Target is the imperial ruler here.) It occupies a humble storefront next to the complex’s Gator’s Dockside.
The menu is succinct, just eight baos and a few ancillary options.
I made my selections through the restaurant’s online ordering form, which is intuitive and easy to use, with options for pickup, including contactless curbside, or delivery through a third party.
When I arrived, I lucked out on a parking space right in front – parking can be problematic in this particular principality – and called the restaurant to announce my arrival. Although the designated time had passed, the order wasn’t immediately ready. But when it was, it was delivered to my coach by a young masked man who kindly placed it in my trunk.
Soon, my car was filled with the redolence of the Angry Sprouts I had ordered as an appetizer. The fried Brussels sprouts were tossed with honey bacon and fiery spicing, which apparently explains the temperament. But they were delicious.
So were the baos.
The Mad King (above right) featured pork belly, prepared sous vide, served in the characteristically puffy wrap with pickled daikon radish and fresh cilantro.
Baoser’s Buddy (left) had braised short rib cooked kalbi style with kimchi and frizzled scallion strings.
The Side Stepper (above left) had fried soft shell crab with kimchi fashioned out of apples, a squirt of sriracha tempered with honey, and arugula, which added its own bit of spiciness to go with the heat of the sauce.
For a vegetarian option, I selected the Toadfu (right), which had a block of tofu breaded in panko crumbs and fried, topped with kimchi’d cucumber, pickled onions and a sake infused aioli.
All the food was hot upon arrival at my palace. And with the baos priced $3.99 to $4.50, it was an inexpensive and filling meal fit for a...no, that’s too many cliches already.
Bao's Castleao's Castle is at 45 W. Crystal Lake St., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, including late nights until 1 a.m. The phone number is 407-704-3041.