Ask anyone with good knowledge of Taiwanese food where their favourite Taiwanese restaurants are and you’ll always hear the same five responses – Hungry Paulie, Cho Dumpling King, Taipei Chef, Diamond Café and Bao Dao. Five restaurants across Sydney is slim pickings for such an internationally renowned cuisine, but thankfully Bao Dao is doing its best to spread Taiwanese food all over the city.
Starting as a market stall in 2008, the small restaurant chain has since expanded to Eastwood, Chatswood (where the market stall started) and, just recently, the CBD. Chang-Yun Chiang, the owner of the restaurants, says the new site brings the same traditional Taiwanese flavours and experience of his previous openings.
“Taiwan is a country with huge cultural influence from China and Japan,” says Chiang, adding that the Taiwanese usually eat six smaller meals and snacks rather than following the breakfast-lunch-dinner model.
At Bao Dao that might be soft bao buns stuffed with preserved vegetables and sticky pork belly; small hunks of thinly battered fried chicken; crisp tofu cubes with silken centres; or mini rice bowls topped with fatty pork mince and sour greens.
Ironically, the most popular item here (particularly with the local international student crowd) is probably the biggest and heartiest dish, Chiang’s traditional beef noodle soup. “We are focused on the broth flavour and the quality of meat; we only use premium quality beef intercostal bones, the cut in-between the ribs,” he says.
Like Chiang’s other restaurants, the vibe is similar to what you’d find in other inexpensive Haymarket favourites – it’s bustling, relaxed and fast. The high turnover is the only thing preventing a queue from forming during peak meal times.
Chiang says he has immediate plans for more restaurants but there’s nothing to reveal yet. Until then he’ll be working on new dishes. “This summer we are bringing a seasonal Taiwanese cold-noodle service. We will also be introducing the tea culture of Taiwan.”
Bao Dao Taiwanese Kitchen
G2/88 Liverpool Street, Sydney
(02) 8387 5513
Mon to Fri 11am–3pm, 5pm–9pm
Sat & Sun 11am–9pm