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Executive Chef Michael Ground Dishes on Bao, Poke and More at This Local Favorite

Written By: Justine McGrath

Photographed By: Josie Gonzales

Restaurants that thrive in America’s Finest City often possess a certain magical combination of fresh ingredients, stylish and comforting ambiance, and a team of creative people working diligently behind the scenes to create tantalizing culinary offerings. Mission Beach’s latest Asian-inspired casual food eatery, Bao Beach, has nailed all of these categories.

Bao Beach is the latest project by The Patio Group, the same visionaries that are responsible for The Patio on Lamont, The Patio on Goldfinch, Harvest and Fireside. The seaside shop has already attracted an impressive following, which is largely in part due to the work of the restaurant’s Executive Chef, Michael Ground.

We had an exclusive chance to pick Ground’s brain about the restaurant, and he delivered some delicious insight into Bao Beach’s origins and offerings. Having grown up in San Diego, Ground was well-versed in the sumptuous salsa-laden offerings dished up at the many taco shops around town. There was something intriguing about delicious, affordable food being served quickly in a casual setting. As a new restaurant concept was being discussed at The Patio Group, Ground was working with a talented chef who had extensive experience in creating baos, a traditional, Chinese-steamed bun.

Ground’s passion for a no-nonsense eatery for hungry beachgoers combined with his coworker’s knowledge of Asian cuisine translated into the tasty menu that can be found at Bao Beach; some of the menu items take a playful Asian twist on casual Mexican fare, such as the Bulgogi Street Fries, which offer a tasty counterpart to San Diego’s beloved carne asada fries. The baos served at Bao Beach deviate from those that you’d find in China, as the fluffy steamed buns are stuffed with a variety of marinated meats and lightly pickled veggies, often paired with a complementary sauce.

The eatery’s namesake item, baos, are affordable and plentiful on the menu. However, the Mission Beach hotspot has other menu options as well, such as Chicken Karaage, onigiri options and poke bowls. Poke bowls are having a major moment in the San Diego food scene right now, so we were curious to find out what made Bao Beach’s unique. Ground told us, “I think what stands out about our poke bowls is the rice and use of fresh ingredients; we add a small amount of black rice to it as it cooks, which then turns it into a nice purple color.  The tuna is super fresh along with all the vegetables that we use on it.  Less is more to me. We don’t load our poke bowls up with a million different items but rather let the few ingredients in the bowl shine on their own.”

As San Diego continues to evolve as a foodie destination, one thing’s for certain—we need more restaurants like Bao Beach that bring fresh takes on beloved dishes from around the world. Ground and The Patio Group’s execution of the location has been sublime and is sure to attract hungry locals and curious tourists.

When asked if he had any final thoughts about the city’s culinary scene, Ground responded by saying, “I want people that live here to be proud of the food San Diego has to offer, and I hope that visitors rave about the city’s food scene when they leave.” With the sumptuous menu available at Bao Beach, we’re positive Ground’s vision for San Diego’s food scene will become a reality.

Bao Beach
3735 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
858.381.0033
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