Dave was really excited about a new place he found near is work and was keen to have me try it. Lucky for me, I had booked some annual leave so after a leisurely morning of faffing around at home, I travelled into the city and met Dave for lunch.
If you didn’t have this place on your radar, you could quite easily walk straight past. There are no flashing lights or brightly coloured signs out the front of this place.
In fact, it’s located in the nook of an alley at the end of an arcade that comes off A’Beckett Street. The place is Wonderbao, and despite it’s fairly secret location, it does very well indeed!
It’s quite a small place with very few places to sit down to eat, so the majority of their customers do take-away. The front kitchen is where they steam and store their bao in humongous bamboo steamers, while the rear kitchen is where all the magic happens.
Just in case you didn’t know what bao were, imagine a fluffy white clouds filled with various yum things like meat, egg, vegetables or sweet stuff. They’re a Chinese steamed bun and there are two types – the big ones are called da bao, are usually made for eating on the go and can be about 10cm wide, while the little ones are called xiao bao and are usually eaten in restaurants.
Dave and I ordered a variety of bao and shared.
The roast pork belly gua bao looked like a soggy taco and contained cucumber, pickled carrots, daicon and hoisin sauce, with a slice of pork. It was like eating a taco too, but the shell was a soft pillow of bao bread. The vegetables gave a crisp, fresh crunch while the hoisin sauce dominated the palate.
The da pork bao contained egg, shitake mushrooms and chinese sausage and was big and steamy. The most prominent flavour was the sausage.
The da chicken bao contained chicken, mushroom and egg, but was a little plain.
The char siu bao had a disappointing lack of filling, but was still good. In fact, it was a little different from the other BBQ pork buns I’ve had; perhaps a little sweeter. It was enjoyable and actually quite delectable.
My favourite bao of the day was the sweet yellow custard one. Once again, the filling was surrounded by the fluffy bread and the filling was smooth and absolutely morish! It wasn’t sickly sweet or rich at all – just really pleasant and mild.
I also got a cup of homemade soy milk as a take away after our meal. The milk was in a pot on the counter and they strained it before pouring my serve. It was smooth with a strong fermented soy flavour that was complemented with sweetness.
This place is great for a snack on the go. It’s ultra cheap, super fast and very yummy! We ate our bao without sauce this time, but next time I’ll drizzle some chilli sauce on the top for an extra kick.