Trendspotting: Hirata buns

Posted at 6:22 pm, September 12, 2013 in Food & Drink

Hirata Bun

A New York version of Taiwanese street food with a Japanese name – sounds like a gourmet game of Chinese whispers. But just what is a hirata bun? Celia Plender peers below their succulent steamed surface to find out…

The history of hirata buns…

20th century

TAIWANESE STREET FOOD

Steamed, folded gua bao buns are Taiwan’s answer to the hamburger. Packed with braised pork, ground peanuts, salt pickles and coriander, this traditional street food snack is where our story begins.

2004

A BITE OF THE BIG APPLE

Since David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in New York in 2004, his folded milk buns filled with roast pork belly, hoisin, cucumber and spring onion have been wowing NY fans of East Asian food.

2008

HIRATA-SAN

Japanese ramen chain Ippudo opened in NYC’s East Village with buns named after their executive chef Masashi Hirata. These chashu (braised, pan-fried pork) and lettuce parcels slathered in a spicy sauce were soon causing a stir.

2010

YUM BUN

Taking inspiration from Momofuku, Lisa Meyer started Yum Bun as a London street food stall selling steamed, folded snacks in 2010. Moving into bricks and mortar earlier this year, Yum Bun’s first shop is located just off City Road in EC1.

2013

WORLD DOMINATION

This year, the hirata has been exported across the Ippudo chain, including right here in Japan, where it’s called the ‘Hakata bun’ after Ippudo’s birthplace.

And here’s what you’ll be biting into…

The hirata bun: deconstructed

Hirata Bun

Buns

Once stuffed, these fluffy, folded and steamed Chinese-style buns look a little like Pac-Man after a good meal. They’re often made with milk powder and come in different sizes from three bites upward.

Hirata Fillings

Fillings

Braised or roasted fatty pork belly makes a popular filling, though other slow-cooked meats, fried seafood or grilled mushrooms can also feature.

Hirata Greenery

Greenery

Lettuce, cucumber or spring onions add crunch. Some use sweet or salt-pickled veggies to add another dimension.

Hirata sauces

Sauces

Sweet, spicy chilli sauce adds a little oomph, while a dollop of mayo is good for squelch factor. Other popular sauces include sweet, salty hoisin, tangy mustard and miso.

Hirata saucesWant to try it for yourself? Head to Ippudo in Shibuya

This article originally appeared in Time Out London

 

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