Located in the University Village right next to Boba Cafe, Riverside recently introduced its newest dim sum restaurant, Bao Culture. Bao Culture is known for its dim sum and Asian fusion cuisine. As a longtime dim sum enthusiast, I decided to try the newest hotspot near campus that everyone has been talking about. 

From the outside, it looked nicely set up as chairs and tables were arranged in front of the restaurant. As my friend and I first walked in, the room was empty with the owner waiting for us to take our order. The tables were nicely organized with chopsticks and plates already placed on every table. The decor was a little off since there were tiny surfboards hanging on the wall behind where we sat. 

After taking in the atmosphere of the restaurant, we finally took a look at the menu. Their specialty dim sums and baos looked appetizing, and the prices were surprisingly affordable compared to popular dim sum restaurants like Din Tai Fung and Paradise Dynasty. My friend and I settled for their most popular food options: the pork dumplings and the popcorn chicken which were both $8.99. 

Unfortunately, after the staff took our order, the wait time for our food was unexpectedly long. We waited 15 minutes for the waiter to hand us our water, another 30 minutes for our pork dumplings and an extra 15 minutes for our popcorn chicken. Due to COVID, our food was also placed in plastic containers to avoid any contamination.

My friend and I first tried the pork dumpling. There was a lack of seasoning to the filling causing me  to dip my dumpling in the soy sauce a few times more for my liking. My friend and I also thought that the filling was a little more on the drier side and that the wrapping was a little soggy, with my dumpling falling apart. 

Next, we tried the popcorn chicken. Surprisingly, we were given a huge amount of chicken, which we were unable to finish. It was nicely presented with a few mint leaves on top, and the seasoning appeared to be spot on. The first few bites were really delicious, and the texture was not too crunchy or soggy. However, the smaller pieces of the chicken were on the drier and crunchier side. Although there could be a little more salt and seasoning, the taste wasn’t bad at all!

Overall, the experience at Bao Culture was average. It’s a lot closer to campus than most dumpling houses, and it’s very convenient for students who prefer walking instead of driving. However, due to the restaurant being understaffed, be prepared to wait a while for your food.