Sheridan Su is so chill it’s hard to believe he can run a kitchen. “He’s the only chef I know who isn’t a Type-A personality,” one of his friends says of the soft-spoken 30-year-old. Yet the Los Angeles–born Su has run several prestigious kitchens, including the Cosmopolitan’s French brasserie, Comme Ça, and now his own venture, which has really gotten his culinary reputation sizzling.
Su’s forte is built around his unique take on bao, the Chinese rolls commonly enjoyed as dim sum. He serves them open-faced (“Think of it as a Chinese taco,” he says) and fills them with a variety of meats, vegetables and sauces. It’s the kind of singular taste that compels foodies to go off the beaten path to find it—in this case, it’s been a food truck called Great Bao, a small kitchen (of the same name) in the back of a hair salon and, since January 9, a new full-size restaurant called Fat Choy.
The concept began after he left Comme Ça and bought the food truck. When mechanical problems kept it from rolling on a regular basis and with his savings running low, Su answered a Craigslist ad from Touch Salon & Spa—“$700 a month; it was all I could afford”—moved into its kitchen, and got to cooking again. Soon enough, customers flocked to Touch and to Great Bao. And in these days of social media, such a delicious secret can’t stay hidden very long. Just check out Su’s near-perfect Yelp ratings.
“We had people from all over the world come in to eat in a hair salon,” Su says. “We had a writer from The New York Times come in. It was a pretty crazy experience.”
Great Bao’s philosophy is based on Su’s modest belief that good food should be affordable. “My two best-sellers are the pork belly bao and the roasted duck bao, which is our version of Peking duck,” he says. “We offer one portion for $3 to $3.50. If I’m able to get someone to try that first bite and they go ‘Wow,’ that’s really the coolest thing.”
The Great Bao food truck is up and running again, but Su closed the salon location while he was cooking up the plan for Fat Choy. The new restaurant—tucked in Downtown’s Eureka Casino, where Teddy’s used to be—serves Su’s famous bao, along with noodle dishes, rice bowls and even his take on some of Teddy’s holdovers, including burgers and chicken wings.
“I am a food person to the core,” he says. “No other art can touch all of your senses. For me, it has always been magical.”
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