The Manual
Food & Drink

The Asian Persuasion for Charleston Foodies

Written by Cator Sparks Posted on December 27, 2012

Charleston, South Carolina is blowin’ up as a must visit foodie destination with Husk, Fig and Hominy Grill winning accolades around the country. But tourists and locals alike can enjoy only so much pork cheek and grits. That’s why Xiao Bao Biscuit is a welcome addition to the scene. Their style of cooking is playfully described by the owners themselves as ‘select dishes from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam prepared locally and inspired by kick-ass grandmothers everywhere. We could have had about 12 orders of the dumplings, and the savory ramen was off the chart.

We spoke to co-owner Joshua Walker to hear more about their concept and what’s next.

Tell us how you describe your restaurant?

It’s Asian soul food, a curated selection of our favorite simple comfort foods from Asia and South East Asia. Southern food and Asian food have more than a few things in common and we try and show that with dishes which exist in places across the globe but still feel appropriate for our setting.

Why Charleston?

We left New York City, quit our jobs and had a seven month honeymoon visiting friends and family in Asia.  My family has roots in South Carolina and what started as a place to move our stuff while we traveled soon became a home.

What did your space used to be?

It’s been many things, but originally it was a gas station.

What has been the most popular dish so far?

Okonomiyaki –  which basically means “as you like it” in Japanese.  Essentially, it’s a cabbage pancake with different vegetables topped with kewpie, a sweet soy based sauce, furikake (rice seasoning) and sriracha.  Additions can include a fried egg, pork belly or what we call pork cotton candy (a dry thinly shredded pork).

Is there anything Southerners may like more than other people around the nation food wise?

I think people in Charleston appreciate the good things, however they may come. Of course, fried food and a good biscuit is rarely looked down upon.

What is next for Xiao Bao?

We try and take it one day at a time. Right now, we’re building our outdoor garden space underneath the awning where the gas pumps used to be.  We want to build it so it’s outdoor space but also a nice oasis from the street traffic. We will have built-in seating  that will allow some additional tables since the weather in Charleston is warm almost year round. We will also add  planter boxes with some lattice work and climbing plants.

All restaurant images care of oliviaraejames.com.

Food photography care of  karsonphotography.com