Baozi chain set to take on America

Updated: 2016-03-04 16:25

By Zhang Yi(

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<EM>Baozi</EM> chain set to take on America

The GQS restaurant chain now has nearly 200 branches nationwide, mainly in Shanghai and Hangzhou.[Photo/IC]

Steamed buns, also called baozi, is kind of food that couldn't be more familiar in Chinese daily life. Recently, a Hangzhou-based chain specializing in baozi is set to launch an overseas branch in America, the reported on Friday.

Harvard Square in Boston will be the site for the first store.

This is the first time that a steamed bun chain has opened a branch abroad even though an American coffee chain, which merged with a well-known counterpart "Gou Buli" in Tianjin, declared that it would "never sell baozi in a cafe".

"Why do we try to sell steamed buns in the United States? If we select one kind of food as the ambassador of Chinese traditional food, baozi would be a nice choice, so we would like to promote Chinese cuisine while doing business. Moreover, Americans are keen on handmade things, which is just the way baozi is made," said Gao Jun, deputy general manager of Hangzhou Gan Qi Shi (GQS) Restaurant Management Co Ltd on March 3.

Established in 2009, the GQS restaurant chain now has nearly 200 branches nationwide, mainly in Shanghai and Hangzhou. It is said the annual sales revenue exceeds 200 million yuan, selling nearly 70 million steamed buns every year.

Near Harvard University, Harvard Square is home to dozens of cafes and restaurants, but is not a tourist area always crowded with Chinese visitors. "Our target consumers are local residents and college students who are more likely to accept foreign culture instead of Chinese tourists. Universities and colleges including Harvard University flock together in the Boston, so we make Harvard Square our first overseas site," explained Gao.

As for the filling of the steamed buns, the popular ones are beef with curry and pork meat, which will certainly be reproduced in the US, and the price of the pork ones may hit $3 before tax per bun. Besides, new products may be launched to cater to local tastes.

According to Gao, there will be steamed buns with fillings like chicken meat and lobster as Americans favor chicken and Boston abounds in lobsters. Compared with the other fillings, the lobster, of course, will be more expensive than others.

"An adult usually eats two or three baozi for one meal which cost around $10. That is equal to having fast food like McDonalds. But don't forget that our steamed buns are all handmade, so in light of this, Americans would think baozi are worth more," added Gao.

Besides the fillings, the same standards met by Chinese stores will be demanded in the States. For example, a single baozi weighs 100 grams, of which 60 grams is for the peel and 40 for the filling. Also, 22 peels should be made in 1 minute.

While the standards remain the same as at home, the employees in the American branch will all be local. "But they certainly need to be trained in Hang Zhou for three months. Right now we have 10 American employees trained among which there are ex-White House officials and head chefs from American restaurant chains, " said Gao.

The Harvard Square Chain is supposed to open in the first half of the year and their second overseas shop in Providence is also in the works now.