Hipster tunes hummed at the perfect volume when my friend and I walked through the glass doors of Take A Bao in Studio City, which premiered in November 2011. Located near Valley pub hotpots, Laurel Tavern and Black Market Liquor, Take A Bao adds to a recent resurgence of “ultra-cool” business and restaurant openings along Ventura Boulevard.
Short Ribs "Bi Bim Bop" Rice Bowl — Photo courtesy of Sujata Day
Architecturally clean and modern, the sleek interior design of Take A Bao matches its fresh, contemporary Asian-inspired cuisine. Upon entrance, happy hosts stand behind the counter to eagerly take your order. We grabbed some menus and seated ourselves at a long, wooden table next to the outdoor patio, which is furnished with heat lamps for chilly Los Angeles nights.
Stocked with a full bar and tempted by tantalizing cocktails, we ordered the Passion Margarita and Wet Cucumber martini, neither of which disappointed. First things first, order the addictive Tofu Popcorn (tempura-fried balls of tofu accompanied by cilantro cashew chutney). Each juicy and delectable short rib of my Bi Bim Bop brown rice bowl, with pickled vegetables and red chili sauce flavors, melted in my mouth. My friend sang praises for her Chicken Udon noodles, loaded with mushrooms, bok choy, and cabbage.
Take A Bao in Studio City — Photo courtesy of Sujata Day
After satisfying my need for savory fare, it was time for something sweet. We dove right into the Banana Nutella Bao, a cinnamon sugar bun topped with nutella, caramelized banana, marshmallow, and chopped hazelnuts. The perfectly executed Chocolate S'more Bao proved that simplicity trumps sophistication in the dessert department. Take A Bao offers vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and kids’ menus on request.