One thing I have noticed while walking around Philadelphia is that seemingly random restaurants sell Chinese Bao. A case in point is Big Catch Poke, which has an 8.5 by 11 piece of printer paper stuck to its front window listing various Bao options. Big Catch has a cold counter with lots of bins with Poke ingredients that you can choose from to make your bowl and a small warmer cabinet full of Bao. In the Pre-Times they had two tables of seating up front and a patio out back, but for now they are doing to-go and pick-up service.
The Dumplings: Big Catch serves four types of Bao: the Big Bao filled with steamed pork, Chinese sausage, egg, mushrooms and celery; Char Sui Bao filled with Cantonese BBQ pork, Hot Chick Bao filled with steamed chicken and “some veggies”; and Mini Pork buns filled with tender pork marinated in “various Chinese sauces”. You can also get each of these with an avocado salad.
I only tried two of the Bao offerings, and based on that sampling I think Big Catch is serving some excellent steamed buns. The Big Bao was really flavorful and I could especially taste the celery and mushrooms, and the bun was beautifully light and fluffy. My only note on this bun was that the Chinese sausage was incorporated as a single chunk of sausage, and I think the bun filling would have been better if the sausage was chopped into smaller pieces and distributed more in the filling. But I loved having the half of a boiled egg in the bun as a single piece. The Big Bao comes with a gold-brown dipping sauce that looks like a peanut sauce but has more of a salty, savory, spicey flavor, which works great with the Bao. The trio of Mini Pork buns was also really good. The menu only describes the filling as having been marinated in ‘various Chinese sauces” with no other details, but my guess is that one of them was Hoisin sauce. My lunch of a Big Bao and the trio of mini buns was delicious and quite filling. The prices for Bao are also really reasonable, so Big Catch is value for money too.
The Location: Big Catch Poke is at 1840 E Passyunk Ave which is just north of Mifflin Street. This is close to the western end of the East Passyunk corridor of restaurants and bars.