Bao. Not to be confused with ‘bae,’ which quite frankly should go and die in dictionary hell. If you don’t know what bao is, you’ll be happy you do once you’re through here. An Asian favourite, the soft buns come in many forms, but the principle is always the same: steamed buns filled with vegies or meat (or both), best eaten with your hands. With the bun folded over and then stuffed with filling, bao is the ultimate hands-on food and the funky cousin of the burger, the cool hipster sister of the sandwich. Get ready to get your fingers sticky and get involved, these places will make you say ‘you’re my bae’ to bao.
Four nights a week (Thursday to Sunday at Wilde Kitchen, FYI) dedicated to nothing but bao buns? We’ll bao down to that! Between the soft shell crab, the pork belly, the slow cooked beef cheek and the chicken karaage, we might not even have room for a dessert bao. Oh who are kidding – there’s always room for Nutella stuffed bao buns.
Hello? Did you say bao? Please! Fill your belly and your buns with crispy pork belly, flavour-filled peanut hoison, and fresh coriander and cucumber. What’s more, you can combine bao and booze together with their menu of wines, beers, ciders and creative cocktails.
Bao Wow Wow gets its name a Lil Bow Wow song, and this delicious market stall has got us barking mad over their bao. The steamed buns are filled with Asian vegetables and your choice of a crispy fish cake, tender chicken or juicy pork. You’ll see us woofing these down at Milton Markets.
Sharing is caring, and Chop Chop Chang’s is the best place to do just that. Head in for lunch and you’ll go monkeys for the daily bao available, so every visit is never quite the same. Expect to see fillings like pulled curry beef with cucumber, shallot and kaffir lime, best paired with one of their jugs of Asian punch – as long as you don’t have to go back to work.
Kwan Brothers is a kitschy mix of all the best Asian food culture has to offer, and their bao buns are worth ditching the doughnuts next door fo
r. Vegetarians can rejoice too, because the crispy tofu bao with Sriracha mayo is the best non-meat bao in town – though you’ll more likely find us with a fried chicken and slow cooked beef bao in each hand.
LONgTIME | Fortitude Valley
Open until late (perfect for when you’re hitting the town), LONgTIME will do it’s best to cajole you into staying a little longer, with tasty bar bites, irresistible cocktails and wild and wonderful mains. Try the soft shell crab bao with Asian slaw and you’ll find yourself loving this place looongtime.
Bun Mobile | Roaming food truck
Zipping around town to whip up some of the best bao in Brisbane, The Bun Mobile is a crowd pleaser, evident from the line always in front of their truck. Regular faves are always on the menu, like the twice cooked pork and slow cooked wagyu beef buns, but surprises await because their specials mix up many a global flavour (Southern style pulled pork with chipotle marinade, anyone?).
Don’t risk a hanger-purchase next time your at Garden City, take a break and grab a bun from Grill ‘N Bao where you can go freestyle. Pick your meat (hot ‘n’ spicy chicken, slow cooked marinated pork belly, tofu puff and more), add your choice of sauce and enjoy it served up with a salad of rocket, spinach and shredded red cabbage.
There’s nothing like bao buns at 2am, whether your finishing the late shift or an afterwork drinks session that went a little overboard. But if you prefer to be in bed at that time of night (or morning depending on how you look at it), Farrier serves up these tasty bao-d boys from noon, so you can have them any time of day!
Bow to the bao!
Words by Kate Bethune