UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
Chairman Bao (SF)

With all this garbage talk from NYC to LA about city officials revoking food truck permits, I decided to go out and support SF food trucks yesterday. Supporting them, meaning, EATING LUNCH. It's the best kind of support, right? Viva La Food Truck!

Chairman Bao (SF)

Since my friends Travis and Claire had told me about Chairman Bao, a truck dedicated to the ever-holy HOT ASIAN BUN, I've been wanting to track them down.

I showed up at 1:15pm, parked on the corner of Irwin and 7th Street. The truck only had 15 more minutes til closing time, but the hungry masses were still coming up to the truck. They opened just a month ago, and business is doing well!

Chairman Bao (SF)

El Menu.

Chairman Bao (SF)

I wanted to order everything on the menu, but I refrained. There are only six kinds of the buns, which is perfect. I hate too many choices! $3 per bao sounded a bit pricey to me for a HOT ASIAN BUN, but when I got my order, I understood. These are some hefty buns!

Chairman Bao (SF)

Remember those HOT ASIAN BUNS from Chicago? Well, these were more the pancake sandwich variety (gua bao), over the char siu baos, the dim sum favorite. I started with the pork belly with pickled daikon.

Chairman Bao (SF)

The pork was crispy around the edges, and the pickles cut the grease. AWESOME.

One of my two pieces of daikon fell to the ground. Sad, sad, sad.

Chairman Bao (SF)

Chinese sausage and green onion omelet with hoison.

Chairman Bao (SF)

This was my favorite of the two. It's perfect for people who appreciate the breakfast sandwich. I had already had a scramble in the morning, which tells you something about my unhealthy obsession for eggs.

After my lunch, I started talking to the girl who was taking orders in the truck. Caroline was so friendly and we spoke for a while about Chairman Bao, how it started, and food trucks in general. She said that their prep kitchen was right there on Irwin, in the big building where the truck was parked.

Chairman Bao (SF)

Then Eric Rudd, the guys who operates the truck (and a chef in his own right), came out and I got to talk to him for more insight into the SF food truck scene. He said that there was still little competition in SF thus far for food trucks, and the community support for Chairman Bao and trucks in general has always been great. How was the support from the city council?, I asked. He said, "The officials have all been really cool."

In this volatile climate for food trucks in LA and NYC, that's a huge relief! From talking to Eric, it sounds like there should not be any foreseeable governmental food truck issues for the time being. (Don't jinx it, Kayoko!)

But ironically, Chairman Bao is mangled in some coast-to-coast drama of its own. I guess the owner/chef of NYC's Baohaus is battling The Chairman over its name, Chairman Bao-- which is the name of one of Baohaus' bestselling buns. Bleh. Whatever. Unless you have a trademark, buddy, you're just being lame. (Although I guess I'd be super pissed if someone else started Umamimart dot net). Anyway, they are supposed to have some sort of battle soon (or not?), where their HOT ASIAN BUNS go head-to-head. BAO-OFF!

The truck was designed and painted by LA artist James Jean. Totally thought it was Obey. My bad!

Chairman Bao (SF)

The truck was started and run by a company called Mobi Munch, which funds food truck ideas. Chairman Bao is their second venture; their first being LudoBites in LA. Pretty neat!

Chairman Bao (SF)

Let me conclude with a little story: The moment I started eating (ok, scarfing down) my HOT ASIAN BUN, a handsome guy walked up to the truck. I recognized him. I flipped through the very skimpy, yet pretty reliable Rolodex in my mind. OMG TOMMY GUERRERO. Skateboarder/guitarist extraordinaire.  オーエムジー。

Dear Tommy, The girl in the red and white striped shirt yesterday with the camera and gross hair? NOT ME. Kanitra, Matt and I tried to see you once years ago at Union Pool in Williamsburg, but we got there too late and you were closing shop. I'm sorry about that. I live here now so hope to catch you soon! Your fan, Kayoko. PS- Thank you for recycling.

Chairman Bao (SF)

Follow The Chairman on Twitter. Duh. Aside from lunch, they park in front of the bar John Collins in the SOMA district, often for happy hour. Looks like they'll be on California and Sabin today, so go get your HOT ASIAN BUN on, SF! Need to try the duck confit one next and compare to DChang's. That'll be my own Bao-Off.

Special thanks to Caroline and Eric for taking the time to talk to me yesterday. In The Chairman's words: VIVA LA FOOD TRUCK REVOLUCIÓN!
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4 comments

  • i’m a east coaster all the way on this. i guess for restaurants, trademarks need to be the way to go. but it’s lame that the imposter truck in SF doesn’t want an original name. i actually found some fucker who uses the same name as my blog but what am i gonna do? waste money to trademark a name of my hobby? east coast baby.

    Danny on

  • East coast vs West coast!!! haha. I’m so not gangsta. Sadness. But you know, I think cities are missing out on an opportunity to make money. Spot permits should be given out via yearly auctions and there should be some grandfathering rules for hot dog and pretzel carts to have some sort of exemption for a few years so those guys can have time to find a new occupation. I know it sounds harsh to have spot permits auctioned to the highest bidder since low wage hot dog vendors will never keep their permits, but this let’s the people have the greatest amount of good street food, increases potential for new businesses (since hot dog carts would never expand), and definitely increases funds for the city.

    they’re dropping the ball on this. hell, someone ought to hire me to do this. i could make bloomy some money.

    Danny on

  • DANNY! Good to hear from you.

    At the end of the day, this is just all PR. I do think that Baohaus has a point (like I said, if someone started Umamimart dot net, I’d be HELLA PISSED), but is it worth making a stinking fuss over? It’s not like The Chairman is driving around NYC.

    What are your thoughts on the food truck city council drama going on in NYC.

    Sigh… yah. East Coast Baby. Miss you guys.

    Note to self: trademark Umamimart asap.

    kayoko on

  • Danny- Quit your day job, trademark FOOD IN MOUTH, sue the FOODINMOUTHdotnet douchebag, start a food cart/truck lobby company, set up shop in Washington. Obama will be all about the Food Truck Revolution.

    Go! You’ve got a lot of work to do.

    kayoko on

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