Baked goodness: Asian bakery may be latest suggestion that good Asian cuisine is here to stay
Time takes its toll on bakeries because time takes its toll on baked goods. This may be why, with a few notable exceptions, bakeries in Fargo and Moorhead end up in grocery stores.
What’s behind the counter is directly related to how fast it can move over the counter. And when you narrow the offerings still further, to Asian baked goods for example, the stakes are even higher. Fargo has gone far beyond the buffet when it comes to Asian cuisine, and Bun Appetit may well be the latest suggestion that good Asian cuisine is here to stay.
Bun Appetit shares a wall and a door with Drunken Noodle in downtown Fargo, and it suffers a bit for not having its own space. There are two tables and a window seat, so takeout is common.
There is nothing exceptional about the space, and if you’re looking for an Asian tea-and-pastry experience, you will have to make do with paper cups and tea bags. While this doesn’t take away from the quality of the baked goods, it limits the service to an over-the-counter conversation – pleasant that it is – and a few minutes of commentary on the contents of your selection.
And the selection might be seen by some as a bit limited, but the contrary is the case. These are fresh, made from scratch offerings, and variety is the key here. The buns themselves are true to their roots, some adapted and some coming straight from the source. Steam gives way to oven baking, but there is a variety of savory and sweet options that can be combined to make up a full meal if that’s your goal.
The barbecue pork bun ($3.25) is a good example of how this fare can appeal to a wide range of people. Baked, not steamed, it tastes more of the Midwestern grill than it does of the red-cooked pork of the east. Less about subtle than about sauce, it’s a stab at a main dish that might put Bun Appetit on the downtown lunch map. But it’s not cheap, and you could find yourself in double-digit territory before you can call a visit to Bun Appetit a midday meal.
That said, it’s a unique collection of goods, and a few items reflect a special touch and value to boot. The super-sweet red bean bun, a steal at $1.50, comes dressed with a hint of sesame in the filling and a substantial sweet bread as packaging.
The little $.99 mini danish is a light pastry dream. And sitting in the cooler is a Green Tea Sandwich Cake ($3.25) and it’s western strawberry shortcake version. The Green Tea cake is bright, with a tiny touch of bitter and a beautifully smooth heavy cream filling touched with red bean paste. Mexican coffee bun ($2.99) is a distinctive combination of buttered sweet bread and crisp cookie. So there’s some fun exploration going on here and it’s worth being part of.
Bun Appetit is not a sit-down restaurant, and it’s not a full-service bakery. Things like coffee and tea are an add-on. It’s a specialty shop and a kind of experiment in ethnic specialty offerings. I hope it’s successful. It shows a lot of promise.
Bun Appetit Address: 623 NP Ave. N., Fargo
Cuisine: Asian bakery
Food: Three out of four stars
Service: Three out of four stars
Ambiance: One and a half out of four stars
Dining Details Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Phone: (701) 541-4441
Reservations Accepted: No
Dress: As you like
Credit Cards accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express