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Daily Drip

Bao + Pizza = Baozza: Tasty Mash-Up or Culinary Misstep?

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Make way for the culinary mash-up you didn’t know you needed. (And try not to drool.)

Pizza plus baozi equals “baozza”

Cooked up by two expats in Beijing, “baozza” is the aptly-named combo of pizza and baozi, the filled bun sold at most budget eateries in China.

Baozza have been steadily creeping into a handful of Beijing and Shanghai eateries over the past year, and the brand just opened a dedicated storefront in Shanghai’s Yangpu district last week.

It might seem to some that the two staple foods were smashed together quick-and-dirty in some unholy oven union, but founders Loren Heinold and Alex Cree insist that a lot more thought goes into these fusion foods, and that it actually took years of work from international chefs and Chinese baozi experts to nail the recipe.

“With traditional bao, you steam basically one kind of texture in the middle of the dough,” says Heinold. “With Baozza you’ve got pepperoni, tomato sauce and cheese –three very different kinds of ingredients that all behave quite differently.”

He adds that while it’s easier and cheaper to pre-blend all the ingredients together in a factory, by necessity they layer all their baozza by hand.

The fusion food stirred up a bit of controversy last summer when an opinion piece in Communist Party tabloid Global Times accused them of cultural appropriation. The author claimed that Italians and Chinese were both deeply proud of their culture and that baozza was “ridiculing both food traditions.”

“We didn’t create this product because we thought baozi or pizza were somehow not good enough,” says Cree. “We saw an opportunity to take two things that we love and weave them together into something unique. Food is strongly associated with culture, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create something new.”

For what it’s worth, we sampled a few flavors — and we think they’re delicious. Like, kind of the best of both worlds. The doughy baozi exterior and pizza toppings make for a surprising texture, and they don’t skimp on the filling. Plus, no crusts, no mess. In some circles, the Baozza brand’s worst crime will probably be giving Hawaiian pizza a spot on the menu.

Pair two with some cough syrup-infused bubble tea and you have yourself a meal.

Hungry Shanghai readers: Baozza’s storefront can be found at Pacific Fresh City Mall, 199 Songhu Road in Yangpu District (上海市杨浦区淞沪路199号).

Disgusting? Heavenly? Weigh in in the comments below.

Mayura Jain
    Mayura Jain is a Shanghai-based writer, editor, illustrator and designer originally from Los Angeles. Before joining RADII as Life Editor, she worked for City Weekend Shanghai and Sixth Tone as both an editor and graphic designer. In her spare time she frequents art exhibitions, fosters cats, and chows on unhealthy vegetarian food.

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