“Baos” are you familiar with them? Have you grown up eating them or are they a new concept to you? ~ I know for my Asian especially Chinese Readers baos are probably nothing new to them ~ because we eat them all the time especially when we go to Yum Cha, it’s basically a staple to have Char Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Bun). For my lovely Readers who are not familiar with Baos, they can be described as Chinese steam buns with a filling which can be either savoury or sweet.
In the past month, two stores specialising in Baos have opened up in Melbourne, Bao Now and Wonder Bao. I’ve been meaning to go visit, but I have been so time poor lately, that I have been making more lunch time runs and recruiting colleagues to go eat with me and put up with me taking a million photos of their food
Last week the blog victim was Yue, my amazing colleague ~ you might remember him from this post, where I made him a chocolate cake for his birthday in June ~ I’m the only girl in our team and the youngest, so this poor guy has to look after me all the time and put up with all my whinge and rants oh and he’s always having to eat or reject my baked goodies too hahaha
Anyhow, last Friday I persuaded Yue to rush out during our lunch break, cross the river to Bao Now on Hardware Street, for Melbournians it’s just right opposite Hardware Societe to make it easier for you guys to find it ~ It was a relatively warm day and rather quiet at Bao Now, which was nice because that gave me the chance to take my time in deciding what to order and take some photos ~
I really like the simple decor of Bao Now with a huge map on the wall describing the baos. They don’t have many seats inside the store, but have a few more tables outside. Looking at their menu they currently have 3 types of baos – steamed bao (savoury or sweet) and lettuce baos (san choy baos), for those who aren’t fond of baos they also have rice bowls ~
It was a little hard for me to take photos of the actual baos as they were in the glass cabinet and there was a lot of steam so I’m sorry for this blurry picture ~ I thought the Bao deal to be very reasonable for $9 you get 3 baos and a drink (ice tea, soft drink or water), uh oh dilemma do I get 2 sweet baos and 1 savoury or be good and get 2 savoury and 1 sweet?
I think the waitress saw how distressed I was and offered to give me a free Nutella bao if I got another savoury bao as she said the Nutella baos were a little smaller than they should be *HAPPY* So I ended up with a cheeseburger bao, buffalo wing bao, vanilla custard bao and a NUTELLA Bao!
Starting with the savoury, I thought the cheeseburger flavour was really unique! It tasted very much like spaghetti bolognaise but in a Chinese steamed bao hehe I bought one takeaway for Mr Bao to try (I know how ironic Mr Bao eating Bao LOL) and he really liked it, basically had it one go and said he could have a couple more of these! Only complaint was the size being a little small hahaha. Sorry I don’t have a decent photo of the cheeseburger bao so decided not to upload hehe
Now to the buffolo chicken wing bao it was soft chicken meat in a Tabasco sauce, both Yue and I really enjoyed it, but I would have preferred it even more if it was spicier, while he thought it just needed to be a little less sweet.
Yue also got the 3 bao deal but instead he got 2 lettuce baos and a mexican pork bao. He was super kind to let me try all of his baos hehe we both really liked the thai chicken bao as had a green curry taste which went really well with the lettuce The buffalo chicken filling was similar to the one in the steam bao but flavours were pronounce here as the lettuce had a rather light and bland taste I really like the idea of lettuce baos though because sometimes you just want something like and lower on carbs that’ll be perfect ~
He then got the Mexican pork which reminded me of the typical chai siu bao, but obviously tasted nothing like it as it was Mexican hehe However, I found it quite bland and the ‘bao’ to really overtake the flavours from the filling.
While I was taking a million photos, suddenly a man came up and said “I’m sorry but would you be Daisy from Never Too Sweet?”, I was immediately shocked that someone recognised me! That turned out to be one of the owners of Bao Now, Ricky ~ he said he recognised me from my Twitter display picture hahaha note to self…remove all photos of myself from all social media platforms. Ricky was very nice and asked us for feedback and suggestions. I told him honestly that I thought the buffalo chicken wing bao could have been a little bit spicier to make it tastier, while Yue suggested a Korean inspired lettuce bao as he just returned from a holiday in Seoul Ricky then told us that they were still experimenting with the filling and found that the bao itself had a strong over powering taste, I would describe it as the ‘yeasty’ taste hehe and because of this the filling had to have strong flavours to cut through the bao.
Back to baos ~ Now please excuse my ugly fingers in these photos, lol I wasn’t sure how to take a good photo of the filling in a timely fashion so Yue didn’t have to wait so long to eat, he doesn’t hang out much with food bloggers, so I felt bad if I made him wait for ages lol anyhow time for the sweet baos, starting with the vanilla custard bao, I immediately thought of the ‘lai (nai) wong bao’ you also get at yum cha which is a bao filled with egg custard it’s one of my favourites. But this Vanilla custard bao was nothing like the traditional lai wong bao, instead the filling reminded me of the filling you get in between vanilla slices, that kind of vanilla custard ~ I quite enjoyed it but think I prefer the traditional egg custard more.
This was their slightly smaller than normal Nutella bao ~ I was so excited about trying this bao because I’m addicted to Nutella, Yue and I shared it but found that it doesn’t really taste like Nutella, it was more like chocolate filling with some crunchy pieces. Ricky then tells us that this bao actually has a chocolate ganache and hazelnut praline filling ~so not exactly Nutella but still yum!
I actually didn’t order the chocolate mousse bao but Ricky was so generous and said he would like to give us one to try because he would really like our feedback and I think because he knows I’m a dessert-freak It turned out to be the highlight of this lunch ~ it was my absolute favourite, the bao was obviously soft and fluffy in texture and then the chocolate mousse would ever so gently ooze out. It wasn’t overly sweet, it had a rich chocolate flavour but still had the lightness of chocolate mousse! I’m definitely coming back for more! Thank you Ricky!
Oh wait how could I forget about the ice tea that came with the bao meal ~ there was a choice between XXX we both really enjoyed the tea and found it to be very refreshing and definitely quenched our thirsts I’m really getting into iced teas lately with the warm weather coming ~
That’s not it with the baos, I actually went back a couple of days later with Kirk because he literally lives 1 minute away and I really didn’t like some of the photos from last time I so being the responsible food blogger I went back And to my surprise they had the brand new butter chicken and BBQ pork!
I found the butter chicken filling to be on the sweet side which counteract with the bao quite well and the BBQ pork was nothing like what I expected it to be, because it was not the traditional char siu bao , the BBQ was more the American/Westernised Barbeque sauce taste, it was definitely different and even though it was nice, I think I still prefer to the buffalo chicken bao the most!
Overall, I really enjoyed Bao Now and it’s unconventional twist on the very traditional Chinese baos ~ I appreciate their effort and creativity for stepping outside the box and introduce something new to the Melbourne food scene ~ it was a little sad to see quite a few Caucasian customers (Sorry not trying to discriminate) walk in, have a look and then walk out. I think the concept of eating bao’s is still quite new but I’m sure once you try these baos you will want to come back for more!
Daisy, Yue and Kirk @ Never Too Sweet paid for all food and drinks except for the chocolate mousse bao and Nutella bao