Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Chef Hiroo Nagahara’s passion for food started when his mother introduced him to the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, where they would regularly stroll the aisle selecting their favorite seafood from various vendors. That experience started Hiroo on a journey to understand the rich nuances of different ingredients and how they work together to become something great. Armed with this creative zeal, a pedigreed resume and his mother’s cherished recipes for stuffed bao, Chef Nagahara is set to open Bao Hiroo in downtown L.A.’s Arts District later this month.
Bao Hiroo’s newly designed space will offer Angelenos a unique mix of sweet, savory, steamed, baked and fried bao, all hand-crafted and sure to make anyone a bao-liever. Standouts include the Beef Brisket steamed bao (stuffed with coffee bbq, fuji apple and fennel kimchi), the crispy Japanese Curry bao (filled with fried tofu, fingerling potatoes and seasonal vegetables, coated in panko and fried), the baked Pork Belly “Croque Monsieur” bao (layers of Swiss and fontina cheese, pickled mustard and a miso glaze wrapped, in Hiroo’s house-made, pillowy soft milk bread), and of course the Oreo Cookie bao filled with Guittard chocolate, Tahitian vanilla and topped with sea salt. Their fast-casual format will also offer a selection of house batched and bottled cocktails (with full liquor license to come), making Bao Hiroo a perfect spot for lunch or dinner and great for late night eats and good times with friends.
After a few years away, Chef Nagahara is excited to be back in Los Angeles as he feels a deep connection to the melting pot of cultures and dynamic food scene that L.A. offers. Having spent time living and working here, he is honored to be opening a restaurant in one of the greatest food cities in the world. The Arts District is the perfect spot for Bao Hiroo, in that it’s very reflective of Chef Nagahara’s approach to food and overall style. He enjoys bending the norms, yet honoring nostalgia, technique, and flavor at the same time. In addition, much of the creative inspiration behind Bao Hiroo comes from the mischievous and playful spirit of the Tanuki, which was all around Chef Nagahara growing up in Japan. The Tanuki is known for being a trickster and shapeshifter, and his rascally persona is infused in the overall essence of the Bao Hiroo brand and menu.
Bao Hiroo’s concept is also thoughtfully reflected in the restaurant’s design. Nagahara has teamed up with Mass Architecture & Design to bring this vision to life. The space will incorporate a clean, industrial vibe, utilizing raw and natural elements such as dark woods and exposed brick, as well as showcase street art from local artists.
Bao Hiroo is located in the Arts District at 905 E. 2nd St. #109, Los Angeles, CA, 90012 and will open with dinner and late night service and delivery for lunch only Tuesday through Saturday with full service lunch to follow post opening. For more information, visit www.baohiroo.com or follow on Instagram @BaoHiroo.