If you’re familiar with Auburn, chances are you’ve heard of The Irritable Bao. One of Auburn’s most cherished spots, The Irritable Bao is an incredibly unique restaurant. We picked out several of our favorites at The Irritable Bao—check it out!
1. The Irritable Bao has a Unique Origin Story
Whitley Dykes and his wife, Kunyu Li, have a very interesting success story when it comes to their journey with The Irritable Bao. Dykes is from Auburn but lived abroad in China for 7 years, where he met and married his wife. When they came back to Auburn, they were looking for a way to have purpose in the community while incorporating the parts of China that were so important to them.
They opened Dumps Like A Truck, their original bao food truck, in 2017. It quickly became extremely popular in the community. Li was the mastermind chef inside the truck, practicing her authentic ways of cooking from back home. The food truck was in hot demand with catering events and students finding where they were parked on any given day. By 2018, they were able to open a tiny storefront spot in Auburn.
By 2020, the Auburn community could not get enough of this place, and it was time to expand. Almost exactly a year ago, on June 5th, 2020, The Irritable Bao opened up a new storefront in downtown Auburn. Right in the middle of a global pandemic and against all the odds, they were able to successfully make this transition-with flying colors. The community showed up and showed out (with masks of course) for their favorite meals. Almost every day of the summer, the lines were out the door. It is a great story of growing, conquering troubles, and of the support from a whole community.
2. Their Unique (and yummy) Food
I promise you that you won’t be able to find anything else like The Irritable Bao nearby. Their food is something completely new, fresh, and different for the people of Auburn to enjoy. They are an authentic Chinese Bao restaurant, but they carry much more than just baos.
They change their menu almost every day, so you will never get bored with what they have. They have boxed meals such as a Sweet and Spicy Chicken box or the Bang Bang Shrimp and Rice. Every single thing I have ever gotten there has been amazing, and you truly can’t go wrong. One of my personal favorites is the Chinese Street Brussels box.
If you have never had a bao before, (like I had not before I was introduced to Dumps Like a Truck) then you need to try one. My favorite bao is the classic beef, carrot, and onion one pictured above. Their unique taste and flavor is unlike anything you have had, and it really makes this place stand out. You can keep up with their menu each day on Instagram.
3. Their Unique Way of Business
Additionally, The Irritable Bao has a unique way of conducting their business that makes the community love them even more. Dykes is incredibly friendly, welcoming, and energized with his customers. He makes a point to come speak to everyone that walks in and learn their names. He also makes you feel special by taking your photo outside or inside the store.
Whitley does a daily photo dump on instagram with the customers each day, and I am embarrassed to admit how many times me and my roommates have been featured. It is so good that we just keep coming back for more! This is a fun way to get everyone excited and involved in the restaurant. When you are this kind to people, they will want to support you no matter what.
Their business revolves around showing everyone who walks in love and kindness, and that is what makes it so unique. The marketing strategy on instagram provides a fun way to create loyal customers (like me and friends).
4. Their Unique Cause
Maybe the best part about The Irritable Bao, is the unique cause that it supports. They are committed to empowering the impoverished through the Gospel and formal education. They were able to sponsor 8 children abroad in the Philippines during their first year. 100% of their tips and merchandise proceeds go to these children on the other side of the world. In 2019, over $35,000 of donations and food were given to their unique cause.
There is obviously something very special about The Irritable Bao. All of these unique things about The Irritable Bao make this restaurant what it is to the community. Get out there and go support this awesome place!