Say "bun" and you'll find a world of tasty options and variations.
Qualifying under the category are sweet rolls, doughy snacks, soup dumplings, even noodle dishes.
Our bun choices include a bakery in Reading Terminal Market, an Italian restaurant in the gayborhood, a Japanese restaurant near Logan Square, three Vietnamese restaurants all around town, a bread bakery in Manayunk, and assorted tiny takeout shops in Chinatown.
Amis (412 S. 13th St.)
Sticky Buns ($9)
Chef Brad Spence, who is known for bold Roman cooking, recently added these sticky buns to the sweet side of the menu of the popular Vetri Family restaurant in Washington Square West. These buns are a concoction of brown sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon, and pecans.
Beiler's Bakery (Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th St.)
Pecan Sticky Buns ($5.75 for the loaf)
Decisions: The signature doughnuts from this Reading Terminal Market destination, or a cluster of the sticky buns - heavy on the pecans, cinnamon, and brown sugar? Or both?
Bing Bing Dim Sum (1648 E. Passyunk Ave.)
Everything Pac Man Buns ($8 for 2)
Bagels and lox with an Asian twist. Shawn Darragh and Ben Puchowitz go for the buns at their Asian-inspired restaurant in East Passyunk. These buns on the new menu contain lox, cream cheese, and cucumber.
Bistro SouthEast (1824 South St.)
Soft Shell Crab Bun ($9.95 for 2)
Crab, pickled carrots, and cucumber wasabi mayo - a delicious combo of textures and flavors - make up this tasty bun on the lunch menu at this Asian newcomer in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood.
Breakin Bread Bakery (4351 Main St.)
Pumpkin Brioche Bun ($3.25 each)
Right in time for fall, this Manayunk bakery added pumpkin to its selection of brioche buns. Owner Jim McAleese (the baking wizard who founded the bread program at Parc on Rittenhouse Square) opted for an orange flavoring outside with pumpkin pie filling inside.
Bud & Marilyn's (1234 Locust St.)
Nashville Hot Buns ($10 for 2)
Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran (Barbuzzo, Lolita, Little Nonna's) offer three buns on the dinner menu of their retro newcomer at 13th and Locust Streets. These buns nod to Music City with fried chicken, pickles, ranch, and pickle brine slaw.
Cafe Nhan (1620 W. Passyunk Ave.)
Bún bò huế ($9)
Few buns can warm you up like the spicy beef Vietnamese noodle soup called bún bò huế. This humble cafe in South Philadelphia is the real deal.
Doma (1822 Callowhill St.)
Pork belly bun ($8 for 2)
At this sleek Japanese restaurant in Spring Garden, three types of steamed buns are offered on the appetizers menu. The pork belly bun with pickled cucumber, scallion, and house sauce, or the shiitake mushroom variety, or the spicy pork are all fine preludes to sushi.
Miss Rachel's Pantry (1938 S. Chadwick St.)
Vegan Sticky Buns ($3.50 plain, $4 with pecans)
There's yeast, sugar, ground flax, vegan butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in these sticky buns - not a speck of dairy or eggs. They're part of the pastry selection at this vegan spot in South Philadelphia.
Steamed pork buns ($1.75 each)
Most people head to this fluorescent-lit Chinatown eatery beneath the Hilton Garden Inn for the Shanghai soup dumplings known as Xiaolongbao. For a change of pace, the steamed pork buns here are worthy dim-sum snacks. (There's another Dim Sum Garden, under different owners, at 1020 Race St.)
Same Same (614 N. Second St.)
Caramelized Pork Noodle Bowl ($10)
Chad Kubanoff's Vietnamese street-food restaurant in Northern Liberties turns out noodle-y goodness, as the caramelized pork in this bún mixes with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and cucumbers.
Sancho Pistola's (19 W. Girard Ave.)
Mole Meatball Steamed Buns ($7 for 2)
This lively Mexican spot in Fishtown looks east for inspiration for Asian-style steamed buns, which act as sponges for incredible sauces. Exhibit A: Chef/partner Adan Trinidad's meatballs in mole sauce, with queso and sesame seeds.
WokWorks (1935 Chestnut St.)
Spicy Fried Chicken Buns ($5.95 for 2)
This casual Rittenhouse Asian-fusion cafe, known mainly for its build-your-own noodle bowls, offers three taco buns. To riff on Nashville-style hot chicken, owner Brennan Foxman adds fried chicken, spicy pickles, and Sriracha mayo to steamed buns.
Custard bun (80 cents and up)
This Chinatown takeout is full of sweet and savory buns, in small and large sizes. The pork and the vegetarian make for a great midafternoon snack, and no kid can resist the ones filled with sweet custard, which are the most popular.