One local culinary couple wants you to take a bao. This past January 19, husband-and-wife team Ryan Wood and Emilie Morin held a soft opening for Bun Guy, their new bao bun pop-up restaurant—bao buns being open-faced, dough-y meat- or veggie–filled snacks that are a staple of the Asian street food scene—for their family and friends at Flatbread Social in Downtown Saratoga Springs. Three weeks later, they debuted their menu to the public at a second pop-up, selling out in the pre-order phase two days prior. “We couldn’t have been happier,” Wood says about introducing his new venture to the public. “We had some great help from friends, which really made it a success.”
Bun Guy was born when Wood, who’s the taproom manager at Northway Brewing Co., went to Flatbread Social to watch his wife at work (she’s the restaurant’s manager). It was a slow night, and when Wood came across a Portland, ME pop-up restaurant on Instagram, the couple got to talking. They remembered the pork buns from a restaurant where Wood worked when they lived in New Zealand, and thought it’d be the perfect concept for a Saratoga pop-up. “We came up with the idea almost right away,” he says.
The Bun Guy menu features five bao bun varieties, including the Yoshimitsu bun (pork belly, sweet and spicy soy, pickles, cilantro and peanut), the Nightbird bun (fried chicken, kewpie, hot honey, cabbage, cilantro and fried garlic) and, for vegetarians, the Rikimaru bun (curry cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, cho jang mayo, cilantro and peanut). There are also salads, such as Wood’s personal favorite, the Dragonfly (green papaya, green beans, tomato, birds eye chili, cilantro, mint, peanut, fish sauce and pork rind); snacks, such as Morin’s favorite, the Tai Guy (Taiwanese popcorn chicken served with your choice of dipping sauce); and vodka, rum, gin and tequila cocktails. Wood says the next pop-up, which will be at Flatbread Social on March 1, will feature some new buns and sides that will be announced on their Instagram page in the days leading up.
So, what’s next for Bun Guy? “We have no idea,” Wood says, laughing. “This has just been something fun to do every few weeks to enjoy with our friends. We’re humbled at how it’s been received and how people have enjoyed it.”