On a whim, I stopped by Off the Grid, a Bay Area food truck meetup, in Berkeley. I had heard great things about The Chairman truck and it was at tonight's event. You can't miss it; it's big, bright red, and has a long line of hungry people. The line was long relative to the other trucks, but nowhere near what the lines were like when the Kogi Truck first opened up in LA. I remember waiting at least 2 hours for a few tacos, but that's beside the point.
The Chairman features baos, which are basically Chinese sandwiches on steamed or baked buns. They were out of baked buns, but that was not a problem because I love steamed buns. I was going get straight pork belly, but for the sake of journalism, I also ordered a Coca Cola braised pork bao.
I tried the Coca Cola braised pork bao first. This bao was packed with goodness - braised pork, a cabbage slaw, mustard seeds, and sauce. The pork was moist and tender. The Coca Cola they braise it in definitely lends great flavor to the pork. You get the great savory elements of Coke, but without the sweetness. Everything else in this bao complements the pork nicely and the mustard seeds really brighten everything up. It was good, but quite frankly, after eating the pork belly bao, I don't remember too much about this one.
This bao lived up to the hype. Dare I say, the pork belly was succulently sexy. Not only was it tender as the name says, it had a bit of a crunch from getting finished on the flat top. There was just enough fat left, post-rendering, to give great flavor and juice. Maybe my mind was over exaggerating the greatness of the pork from sensory overload, but this was one of the best pork bellies I've ever had. Everything was perfect from the textures to the flavors, and I was happy. The pickled daikon cut through the fattiness of the pork and acted as a breath of fresh air, not that the pork belly was bad in any way.
Everyone has to eat a pork belly bao from The Chairman. Preferably more.
The Chairman www.twitter.com/chairmantruck (415) 813-8800