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Takeout buns and slaw from Gongfu Bao, re-plated at home. Photo: Alison Larabie Chase.

Takeout Talk: What are you ordering this weekend?

By Barbara Popel and Sonya Gankina on March 26, 2021


In this weekly feature, Apt613 asks blog contributors and local figures about their takeout habits and highlights—to help you find new tasty treats to discover or revisit when you’re just OVER IT with making dinner. We want to hear about the takeout you loved! Leave comments below and if you’d like to contribute to a future edition of Takeout Talk, email <>.

Highlights this week

Barbara Popel
Lives in: The Glebe
Day job: Culture vulture

Our latest Friday takeout was from one of our favourites – Gongfu Bao in Centretown. It checks all the boxes: variety, taste, price, service. This little gem started out as a street cart serving steamed buns (bao) based on Chinese and Taiwanese culinary traditions, and moved into a bricks-and-mortar place a few years ago. They offer classics such as Spiced Pork Bao (braised Berkshire pork shoulder with five-spice seasoning, soy sauce, doban, onion, red cabbage and crispy garlic. (The latter is catnip for garlic lovers.) There are modern creations like Tofu “Belly” Bao, which is my personal favourite. The braised tofu is garnished with gai choy relish, cilantro and soy nuts. Each pair of bao is garnished differently, which jazzes things up if each of you orders a different bao or, if you’re ravenous and you order two types. We always order the delicious Toban Slaw as a side dish – outstanding! This time, my sweet tooth got the better of me, so we ordered the Sweet Golden Mantou. It’s a sinful box of Timbit-sized deep-fried bao dough slathered with coconut dulce de leche and toasted coconut. Yum!

All of this sounds good? That’s because it is! Remember to ask for the Toban Slaw. And as far as the Sweet Golden Mantou…well, I’ll leave that to your conscience. Also, Gongfu Bao participates in the Mealshare program for street youth, so when you order your dinner, remember to chip in $1.


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Sonya Gankina
Lives in: Hintonburg
Day job: I write words and people give me moneys for it

Thursdays are Buck-a-Shuck at the Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern so naturally, my household got 12 oysters each. At $1.50 per oyster as opposed to the regular $3.50, the deal is ridiculous. The oysters are so fresh and decadent, it makes you feel like Ottawa is a coastal city with a constant supply of delicious seafood. [Editor’s note: Some friends went to PEI once and were told by a restauranteur how lucky they were to live in Ottawa with access to the very best oysters, thanks to the Whalesbone team, which runs the Elmdale. High praise!] Crispy fries with an amazing garlicky mayo complimented the oysters beautifully.

Elmdale has a neat trick for packaging its oysters for takeout: The shells sit on a bed of ice in the upturned lid of a sandwich container, with the flat tray serving as the lid. The oysters are already shucked, but the second part of the shell is replaced on top to protect them. When you open your oyster, you feel like you are carefully uncovering sea treasure. The tray comes with all the fixings—fresh lemon wedges, seafood sauce, wine and onion reduction and, of course, scotch bonnet hot sauce. The white wine we had on hand paired perfectly. The meal was so indulgent and made us feel like we were celebrating something grand, like being alive on this planet, for starters.

Elmdale Tavern oysters. Photo: Sonya Gankina.