I will admit that Asian is by far my favourite cuisine. I have thought about why this is and I think it is because I am of an Australian/European background I grew from with pasta, pizza & meat & three veg. Asian is something that is different and exciting for me!
I heard about Wonderbao & Bao Now from the large number of food blogs that I read. I admit I have never heard of baos before but they did remind me of pork buns that you would get at Yum Cha. I visited Wonderbao a couple of months ago and have not yet had the chance to go back so apologies in advance if my post does lack some detail.
If you look at my work on a map in relation to the location of Wonderbao, it is diagonally across the city. I chose one of the first warm days of October to make the trip across. The store itself was a bit difficult to find but Google maps eventually led me there. What I did notice straight away was so many bamboo steamers. It is quite clear that this place does turn over a lot of Baos. Not 100% sure with what to order I stuck with what I knew and ordered one Chicken and one Pork Bao.
The restaurant was so small and it was full, so I ended up catching a tram back to work to eat lunch as there was no where to sit.
Chicken & Pork Bao (around $3.20 each)
The Baos are quite large and there was lots of meat in them. I felt the meat to dough ratio was good. The meat inside was perfectly cooked. It was juicy and it did melt in your mouth. The Pork Bao contained shitake mushrooms & Chinese sausage. The Chicken Bao contained egg & shitake mushrooms. I did add some Sriracha (hot Asian chilli sauce) to the baos before I left the store but the one thing the inside of the baos lacked was a sauce. I am used to the pork buns I have at Yum Cha with the lovely BBQ sauce inside. If I could have continued to add the Sriracha as I ate my baos they would have been perfect.
Looking back at the menu for Wonderbao, I do want to go back there. The baos are good value for money given their size and they taste really fresh. Both the Braised Pork Belly Gua Bao & Roast Pork Belly Gua Bao really interest me. These seem to be similar to a taco rather than a bun. I also think the egg custard Bao would be delicious. It's just a shame it is so far away from my work.
Shop 4/19-37 A'Beckett Street
Whilst Wonderbao sticks to move traditional Bao's, Bao Now makes sure that they serve Bao with a twist. I had a peak at the menu before I went there for lunch, and I was most excited about the Buffalo Chicken Bao as I love spicy chicken. Bao Now is also much closer to my work, so much easier to get there on my lunchbreak!
Bao Now has a lot of lunchtime specials and at the time of going there, they were running a promotion that you would get a free Bao if you checked in on Facebook. My location services was not working on FB, so no check-in for me. Damn!
I decided to get the 3 Baos, Salad & Drink lunch special for $10. I don't believe there are any restrictions on the Baos you can choose but I ended up going for two savoury and one sweet.
Savoury flavours included - Cheeseburger, Butter Chicken, BBQ Pork & Buffalo Chicken
Sweet flavours included - Christmas Fruit Mince, Cheesecake & Vanilla Custard
Deciding what three Baos to pick was so difficult. I ended up going with Buffalo Chicken, BBQ Pork & Vanilla Custard.
The salad was a coleslaw salad with a sesame seed dressing on top. The Salad looked really sad. I did try a little bit but I though it looked and tasted stale. Good thing I only went there for the Baos!
Buffalo Chicken Bao
I really enjoyed the Buffalo Chicken Bao. The dough to meat ratio was fantastic - lots of chicken! The only disappointment was that I expected a spicier sauce with the Buffalo Chicken. The sauce was still great but I would have loved it if it had that extra kick!
BBQ Pork Bao
I think I was expecting the more traditional BBQ Pork Bao but I found this one had much more sauce in it. the filling actually reminded me of more stew, given the amount of sauce in it. I should have expected that the BBQ Pork would not be exactly traditional. I liked it but compared with the Buffalo Chicken, I don't think I would run back for this Bao. I think this could have used a bit more spice in it
Vanilla Custard Bao
This was my favourite Bao, which surprises me as I usually pick savoury over sweets. The vanilla custard had the perfect balance of vanilla and sweetness and it did not taste overpowering. I was a bit hesitant to get a dessert Bao but I am so glad I did because I loved it!
More Vanilla Custard Porn
The lunch deal I got came with a Rice Green Tea (pictured above). I have never tried this before but I didn't really enjoy the taste of it. The aftertaste was really weird and I still cannot put my finger on as to why. I am not sure if this was how it was supposed to taste. I was surprised that water or soft drink was not included as the drink. However I still think $10 for three baos alone is great value so I was not too bothered that the salad and drink were a bit of a letdown. I am keen to go back to try the Butter Chicken, Cheeseburger & Cheesecake Bao.
Overall, I liked both of my Bao experiences. I can see myself returning to both Wonderbao & Bao Now but I think the twist on the original and that fact it is much closer to my work is going to make Bao Now win out. Both places still have Baos I want to try, so I know that I will be visiting again soon!
119 Hardware Street