Taiwan has one of the most-developed snacking cultures on Earth. Most nights the busy streets are blooming with market stalls, each with a different specialty and style. Bao Dao Taiwanese Kitchen is an attempt to roll an entire village of markets into one spot.
Confusingly, the name Bao Dao doesn’t actually refer to Taiwanese steamed bao buns; it means “Treasure Island” in Mandarin, a reference to the country’s fine culinary cache. Although it serves three velvety baos – the pork belly and peanut is particularly luscious – bao isn’t the focus here. The menu covers a lot of different ground with beef-noodle soups; Taiwanese pork-and-chive wontons; fried chicken; and tapas-style small plates of fatty pig trotter, intestines and crispy tofu.
Among the local Chinese and Taiwanese Chatswood community the beef noodle soup and pork and rice are particularly popular. The beef noodle soup – made from an eight-hour broth reduction with chicken, pork and beef bones, tomatoes, onions and chilli – is thick and intensely savoury, like a rich French beef stew with bonus umami. The Baodao comes with a soy-sauce egg and an option of regular rice or a glutinous tower of sticky rice. Our favourite snack is the plate of chip-like fish cakes, which Bao Dao imports directly from Taiwan. While soft and chewy in the middle from hours of grinding and pounding the fish, the outside is crisp and salty like a well-made potato fry. To offset the beer-required level of savouriness, try the homemade soy milk or winter melon tea – it’s like caramel lemonade.