Ah, Chinese buns... My absolute favorites are Shanghai Juicy Dumplings (xiao long bao) and egg custard buns (lai wong bao - um, sorry for the inconsistent romanizations - some are Mandarin and some are Cantonese), but I've discovered many more to add to my list in the Bay Area.
1. Pan Fried Pork Buns (sheng jian bao)
In the olden days (i.e. when I lived in the boonies), pan fried pork buns were exactly what they sounded like. A regular bun with pork filling and a pan fried bottom. Out here, they burst with soup like the Shanghai Juicy Dumpling. I initially thought I had found some kind of heavenly hybrid only to discover this is the traditional preparation and I had simply never had it before.
Where to get it: Shanghai Flavor Shop in Sunnyvale
2. Chocolate Pineapple Buns
More chocolate than pineapple, this delicious bun makes me think of an Asian interpretation of the chocolate frosted donut. Bonus, the sweetness is quite mild and therefore lulls you into thinking it might be healthier than the donut alternative ;)
Where to get it: Sheng Kee - multiple locations throughout the Bay
3. Roti Buns
With the crispy, sweet crust, these look and taste like fun flavor variations on a Pineapple Bun. Flavors include Plain, Yogurt Chip w/ Cream Cheese, and Chocolate Butter. My favorite so far is the Chocolate Butter!
Where to get it: Honey Berry - multiple locations in the Bay Area
4. Hedgehog Buns
Ok, so these are more cute than anything else, but they deserve a mention just for the aesthetics. They also have really good Pork & Celery dumplings at this eatery.
Where to get it: Panda Dumpling in Redwood City
Not to leave out the staples, the best Shanghai Juicy Dumplings I've had so far are from Shanghai Dumpling King (more details here) (or Din Tai Fung if you're near one of their branches) and the best Egg Custard Buns from HK Lounge (more details here).
Got any bao recommendations? Please do tell!