How two brands tailored their menus to popular eating plans

Wow Bao: Going gluten-free

Wow Bao, which specializes in hot Asian buns, is focusing just one, albeit broad, group: consumers who avoid gluten.

Following two years of recipe testing, Wow Bao on May 1 launched the Gluten-free Chicken Teriyaki Bao at all of its Chicago-area locations.

“We realized a large population was missing out on trying our signature item, the bao, because they are avoiding gluten because of Celiac, gluten intolerance, or avoiding gluten for other reasons,” said Geoff Alexander, Wow Bao’s president. “As we continue to expand our concept, we want our menu to be accessible to as many guests as possible.”

The new gluten-free bao bun is made with tapioca and rice flour and filled with chicken teriyaki prepared with tamari in place of soy sauce. It is sold in packs of two for $6.29, about $2 more than a non-gluten-free bao two-pack. To inspire trial, the chain said it plans to reduce the price of the new item to $5.79.

Wow Bao has no immediate plans to target any other dietary needs at this time, Alexander said. However, he said the chain would continue to promote steaming as a healthier cooking method, and its low-carb and vegetable bases for its bowls, such as lettuce cups, cauliflower rice, and zoodles, which are scheduled to launch next month.