In the West, it all started with Momofuku. David Chang’s popularisation of the humble pork bao in his New York restaurants had everyone in the US screaming for these steamed filled buns. But bao has always been incredibly popular across multiple Chinese cuisines, and is so versatile that it can be filled with all manner of ingredients.
Given the current bao craze, it’s no surprise that Melbourne now boasts an establishment solely devoted to these fluffy parcels of goodness. Wonderbao, located behind the newest RMIT development, is a tiny outpost of bao love. Here you will find steamed buns of all flavours and fillings, including the slightly fancier gua bao, a Taiwanese version of the snack that is basically a wee steamed burger.
Barbecue pork bao, chicken bao, egg custard bao, Chinese sausage bao, braised or roast pork belly gua bao – the choices are all intriguing and no matter which you end up choosing, your bun will be stuffed full of quality fillings.
Vegetarians are also well served with three tasty bao varieties: the shiitake and tofu, the sweet taro and the piece de resistance, a gua bao filled with fried silky tofu, shredded carrot and radish, sweet soy sauce and crumbled peanuts. Just try stopping at one, we dare you.
Be sure that once you’ve stuffed yourself to bursting that you take something to wet your whistle on your way out. Wonderbao makes their own soymilk and a takeaway cup filled with silky warm soy is tremendously delicious and a far more virtuous option than yet another coffee.
Without needing anything more than the change collecting at the bottom of your purse, Wonderbao provides a cheap and delectable lunchtime alternative that is sure to get you clambering aboard the bao train.
Shop 4, 19–37 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne (enter via Literature Lane)
Mon to Fri 8am–5pm