Of course, the noodles at Ming’s Noodle Bar sing, but the steamed buns rock

Steamed bun with pork belly at Ming’s Noodle Bar

When you think about it, the beloved gua bao, or Taiwanese pork belly steamed bun, might as well be the Asian cousin to the taco.

But as much as I love tacos, there are cravings that only a steamed bun can satisfy. Those cravings need the combination of tender, juicy, meaty and fatty pork belly, minced scallions, cilantro and other shredded veggies that bring a wave of happiness.

Fortunately, just north of downtown are some of the city’s best, at Ming’s Noodle Bar. There, chef and co-owner Ming Qian offers amazing steamed buns and a customizable array of hot and cold noodle dishes. She’s from Beijing and her husband, Hinnerk von Bargen, is a professor at the Culinary Institute of America-San Antonio. Together, they transform a former railroad car into an amazing dining experience.

The steamed buns offer other filings besides the house-cured and smoked pork belly, such as the pulled pork with 5-spice and some other goodies, marinated chicken and a few vegetarian options.

And the noodles themselves are wonderful. My favorite, the Spicy Sichuan noodles, are a cold dish of egg noodles with a generous topping of chile oil and shredded vegetables, minced herbs with a sesame dressing. The contrasts of flavors and textures are succeed brilliantly.

Among the noodles with broth options, I’d lean slightly toward the spicy coconut noodles, with rice noodles in a red curry coconut broth. That’s not so slight any of the other dishes. Truthfully, the only reason why I order one instead of another is more about a mood.

The shop offers some Asian beers and local craft brews, along with Mexican Coke, Topo Chico and some other bottled beverages, so it’s easy to come in and enjoy a fun meal. Or get an order to go and pop open your own libation of your choice and let the flavors wash over you as you relax at home.