Popular Chinese restaurant Famous Bao reopens Berkeley locations

Maya Valluru/Staff

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Famous Bao, a popular restaurant run by UC Berkeley alumnus Francis Sun, recently reopened both its Berkeley locations after several months of closure.

Famous Bao was established in 2016 by Sun and his father Jiankang Sun. The mission of the restaurant is to provide high-quality Chinese food to students that is authentic, affordable and fresh, according to the company’s Yelp page. The restaurant has locations on Shattuck Avenue and Durant Avenue. Sun was not able to be reached as of print time.

Employees from surrounding businesses near the Durant Avenue location shared favorable reviews of the restaurant.

“I think it’s one of the best Chinese restaurants in the area,” said Annie Zheng, a campus junior and Poké Bar employee. “I’ve been there often.”

Zheng added that although Poké Bar and Famous Bao both serve the student population, they are not in competition because they serve different types of food.

Zheng said she has observed several places in the area closing and then reopening in the last several years, including Han’s Bistro and several boba stores, such as Plentea, on Telegraph Avenue.

“The food there is very good — it’s very authentic,” Zheng said. “The only reason I don’t eat there as often … (is because) I’m a broke college kid.”

Sun graduated from UC Berkeley in 2011 and previously told The Daily Californian that he did not expect to open a restaurant — he turned to the food industry when he felt that the economic climate had left him with no solid career path. Before opening, Sun spent a significant amount of time researching his menu; he even sent his head chef to Xi’an, China to research the cuisine.

Customer Maxine Gou said she eats at Famous Bao about twice a month.

“There is a lot of Chinese food around Berkeley … from different areas (of China),” Gou said. “I think it’s delicious … (and) it’s affordable for students.”

Gou added that while she was unaware of the restaurant’s reopening, or that it had closed at all, she thinks it is special for its noodles. 

“Its main food is noodles right now,” Gou said. “Other restaurants don’t have that.”

The new menu of Famous Bao does focus heavily on its noodle dishes. It serves an extensive variety of noodle soups, dry-tossed noodles and side dishes, in addition to specifically vegan options. Prices range from $3 to $14.

Famous Bao, however, no longer serves its bao buns or the hot pot dishes that it previously offered to customers at the Durant Avenue location.

“A few people will come from Famous Bao to us,” said campus junior and Yogurt Park employee Bridget Conaway. “They have food there that serves you well. … I think people are full after.”

Contact Sebastian Cahill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.