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A new kind of pastry shop: Bun Appetit to offer Asian sweet rolls, meat-stuffed buns

Adisara Khan, pastry chef and co-owner of Bun Appetit shows a tray of BBQ pork buns. Dave Wallis / The Forum1 / 3
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From top, Mexican coffee buns, hot dog buns and Portuguese egg tarts will be on the menu at Bun Appetit in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum3 / 3

FARGO - When Adisara Khan moved here more than a decade ago, there were no Asian bakeries to get her fix of sweet rolls and meat-stuffed buns.

But after teaching herself to make the treats she loved while growing up around the world, she's ready to share the Asian flavors with others in the community who are looking for a new kind of pastry shop.

Khan, 40, is finishing work on Bun Appetit at 623 NP Ave. in downtown Fargo, and said the shop is expected to be open for business by the end of February.

Located in the former space of Yogi Berries, the exotic pastry shop won't offer heavy sandwiches or decadent cakes like the Western-style bakeries that we're used to, she said.

"In Asia, we don't eat bread with our main meals, so we eat it more like a snack or a breakfast," she said. "We like the bread sweet, and it's not overly sweet, and then we like them with stuffing."

Some bakery staples combine Asian flavors with Portuguese influences, such as chorizo-stuffed rolls and Portuguese egg tarts, a combination of a puff pastry with an English egg custard filling, she said.

Bun Appetit will offer sweeter treats such as coconut buns and Mexican coffee buns as well as more savory fare such as barbecued pork or chicken curry stuffed buns.

Khan first started making the treats about 15 years ago, and previously took a baking course in Thailand to learn the basics.

But until now, she's just made the rolls and buns to satisfy her own cravings and to give to her friends and family.

After years of being asked to open a pastry shop here and finally bring the flavors to the broader community, Khan recently agreed, saying the timing is right now that her two children are getting a little older and she had the time to dedicate to this business.

The evolving palates of Fargo-Moorhead also helped convince her that this could be a good idea, she said, even if there's still a broader reputation of "finicky" eaters who prefer meat and potatoes.

"I think Fargo now is ready to probably embrace something like this," she said. "The Asian restaurants are doing well, and I think people like all the different varieties and the cuisine."

She also had some help getting into the business - Khan is the daughter-in-law of Dave Scheer, who along with his son-in-law, Keng Dechawuth, owns several restaurants in the region, including Drunken Noodle and Wasabi Sushi and Asian Grill, which are attached to Bun Appetit.

Khan said the family connection has helped her focus on the creative aspects of launching this business, such as finalizing the menu, while Scheer handles construction duties and Dechawuth takes on the less glamorous realities of business like paperwork.

She's worked in many of the family's restaurants around Fargo-Moorhead, and spent much of her time as a stay-at-home mom since moving to Fargo when her husband was hired at North Dakota State University.

Still, Khan said this line of work will be a far cry from the financial field she worked in for years while living in Thailand.

She tentatively plans for Bun Appetit to be open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and said it will be a perfect place to stop by for a quick roll and coffee for breakfast on the way to work. The shop will also offer catering for local businesses and events.

Khan will try to have some of her products available for purchase at the Drunken Noodle after the shop is closed for the afternoon.

Treats will likely range from $1 to $3, she said, though she's still finalizing prices and the full menu she plans to offer.

"We'll have to test and see which ones work the best, and we'll probably have some staple ones every day," she said. "It's all about testing out the market and seeing what people like."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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