Here’s one you’ll want to keep a very close eye on, and one I’d been sworn to secrecy on. Until now. I’m giddy, you should be too. As you might recall then, 2022 ended with the sad news that Romina Rasmussen would be shuttering the doors to her iconic Les Madeleines bakery and cafe. Rasmussen signed off with an enigmatic promise to return in 2023. Today’s the big reveal for what comes next.
Rasmussen’s newest project takes her in a direction some might not have anticipated, namely, bao. The steamed Chinese buns are a staple street food in Asian countries, but are notably absent (for the most part) on the streets of Salt Lake City.
Joining Rasmussen to correct the matter are brothers Derrick and Dwight Yee. The Yee’s have historical connections to the Utah food scene too; grandfather Jack was behind the China Doll Cafe on Redwood Road, some fifty or so years ago. The trio’s new venture will be called Xiao Bao Bao and will launch with a quintet of the soft and fluffy snacks.
Much like Rasmussen’s prior attention to ingredient detail at Les Madeleines, a similar approach to quality will underscore XBB. Free range chickens are tapped for a curried chicken bao, while a brace of pork offerings feature Heritage pork, a blend of Duroc and Berkshire breeds. Two vegan friendly options will star alongside those, a bok choy and shiitake blend as well as an eggplant based bao.
From there the menu will evolve through a series of rotating specials to keep things fresh. “So many cultures have a corollary, who knows, we might offer a pierogi one day”, Rasmussen muses, “and of course I’ll be leaning into my former pastry chef past on the sweet side too”. “The point is we don’t want to be overly precious, we want to experiment”, Yee adds. He goes onto confirm that dumplings will follow on from the bao, as will a frozen range for fans to steam up at home.
The format will be to-go only, eventually opening proper in the former Dewey Bail Bonds (212a E 500 S), a couple doors down from the Les Madeleines former location. Until construction wraps up, Xiao Bao Bao will operate via a series of popups, the first of which you can catch this Friday (February 10th), noon through 3.00 p.m. at the Les Madeleines location.
And the name? A colloquialism for a big ol’ hug, something we all need once in a while; and almost certainly what this new grand grab and go spot will serve up by the bao load.
See you all there this Friday…
Want to stay on top of the SLC food scene, minute by minute, dish by dish? Here are a few other places you should follow along:
- FREE newsletter – never miss a story and signup for our weekly Utah food news
- PAID subscription – support the website, the ads and popups go bye bye!
- Instagram – follow us here for a dish by dish look at what’s hot
- Food talk group – chew the fat with other likeminded Utah foodies
- Best of SLC 2023 – our ever updating list of what’s best in the Beehive
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC. I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have written in myopic detail about the Salt Lake City dining scene for the better part of seventeen years.
I’ve worked extensively with multiple local publications from Visit Salt Lake to Salt Lake Magazine, not least helped to consult on national TV. Pause those credits, yep, that’s me! I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
Want to know more? This is why I am the way I am.
This article may contain content provided by one of our paid partners. These are some of the best businesses in Utah. For a list of all our current and past relationships see our partnership history page.