the flog

Baos of Summer

Local sports teams inspire special menu


Behold, doughy bao buns brimming with creamy blue crab, their fried toppings tumbling onto the plate below! It’s the second week of Crane Ramen’s “Sun’s Out, Buns Out” promotion. Every Wednesday and Thursday for eight weeks, the Five Points branch of the Gainesville-based eatery rolls out a new, limited-edition dish inspired by one of Jacksonville's professional sports teams.

  • Week 1 (June 26 & 27): Armada—fried sardine with beurre blanc espuma
  • Week 2 (July 10 & 11): New Jax City—lemon confit and blue crab with fried crunchy crab toppings
  • Week 3 (July 17 & 18): Sharks—gumbo bun
  • Week 4 (July 24 & 25): Jumbo Shrimp—Mayport shrimp burger with tomato marmalade
  • Week 5 (July 31 & Aug. 1): Axemen—Jacksonville “hot chicken” with sweet coleslaw
  • Week 6 (Aug. 7 & 8): Icemen—roast beef with caramelized onions and parmesan cheese
  • Week 7 (Aug. 14 & 15): Jaguars—fried pork belly with oxtail gravy
  • Week 8 (August 21 & 22): Giants—duck confit with avocado

The idea came to Chef Steve Grimes after he ran into several Jacksonville Jaguars players at a local Caribbean restaurant. “They were eating some oxtail, and I had talked to them about coming to the restaurant, and then I had thought about serving in the stadium, and then I wanted to tie together the rest of the city and see if I could just get some more people to come into the restaurant,” Grimes said. “And so I started looking at other sports teams, and then I just wanted to collaborate with all of them, really.”

Foodies interested in any of these dishes should make the time, as this will be the only opportunity they have to try to them. They cannot simply stop by on Friday and expect that the kitchen will make it again (although Grimes would consider bringing a favorite back in the future; and, of course, the promotion will likely run again next summer). Like Pokemon, there's a reward for collecting them all. Customers who stop in for six out of the eight buns will earn a t-shirt. 

“It all comes from our business structure in Gainesville; we don’t like to run specials for an entire week, because we feel it is not special enough,” Grimes said. “I know we’re doing the ‘Street Fighter’ promotion again in the fall. And then if people really like their bun, we can kind of reinvent it and do something different, but I like to—especially on Wednesday and Thursday, it’s a bit of a difficult two days for us to get customers in, and the promotions are just another opportunity for us to kind of be creative and hopefully build a loyal customer base.”

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