When Lianping Cheng’s kids left the nest, she decided it was time to follow a dream. Having worked as a pipeline engineer for her entire career, her real passion was dumplings. Hailing from Beijing, Cheng wanted to bring the flavours of home to Calgary for Chinese expats and native Calgarians alike. So, six years ago, she opened iBaoza, a small, festive storefront where, rumour has it, the best bao in town are made.
“Chinese students studying here tell me they remind them of their mom,” she says. “And we have Canadian customers who come all the time too.” She points to a photo of two kids on Santa’s knee pinned to the bulletin board. “They bring me one every year,” she says, beaming.
The bao themselves are pillowy clouds of dough stuffed with meat fillings. We loved the pork, which was aromatic with ginger and other spices and the chili dipping sauce was tangy, a little bit spicy and a perfect complement to the dumplings.
While we were there, a customer volunteered that Cheng’s jiaozi dumplings (potstickers) are the best in the city and that he drives all the way from the south to get them. His companion added “They taste like home.” We’ll have to get some of those next time!
iBaoza | 4119 4th St. N.W. | 587.315.8558 | ibaoza.com