|Roast pork belly bao at Wonderbao|
The choi bao ($2) was like a little pillow of air but filled instead with shitake mushrooms, tofu and vegetables. It needed a bit of spicy sauce to give it more kick but I thought it was a good vegetarian option. Better still though was the open roast pork belly bao ($3.80). The pork didn’t have crisp crackling but the meat was juicy and contrasted nicely with the crisp vegies and a slathering of sweet hoisin sauce. I’m pretty convinced I could live on Wonderbao’s pork belly bao it was so good.
Details: Wonderbao, shop 4/19-37 A’Beckett Street, City, 3000 (Ph 03 9654 7887) Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-4pm.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve.
|The Wonderbao giant steamers in action|
Right next to Silo by Joost in Hardware Lane, Bao Now immediately grabs your attention with its cheeky “hot buns” sign. There’s actually more to Bao Now than just buns, it has diversified into san choi bao and rice bowls. Unlike Wonder Bao, the bao fillings at bao now are rather unconventional and include inspiration from around the world from a bacon cheeseburger flavour to mexican carnitas.
|Buffalo chicken bao at Bao Now|
The buffalo chicken bao ($3) sounds pretty wrong but was actually very right with just the right amount of zing to keep things interesting. But the bao was a fair bit smaller than Wonderbao’s version and tasted a little soggy after having been kept warm in a glass fronted display case rather than a steamer basket. Thai curry san choi bao ($6.50) was served in a crisp lettuce leaf with vegies and chicken coated in a thick spicy curry sauce which sadly erred on the gloopy side.
|Thai Chicken San Choi Bao at Bao Now|
Details: Bao Now, 119 Hardware St, Melbourne CBD, 3000 (Ph 03 9670 6394)
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
Now… with a little bit of bao bao boom my verdict is that Wonderbao is the home of superior baos. The baos at Wonderbao are bigger and fluffier than Bao Now’s as they come straight from the steamer instead of languishing in a glass fronted counter. But, if you are after kooky flavour combinations then Bao Now is the place for you.