I stumbled on The Bao Place cuz of Instagram. Good thing about Instagram is that it’s good for discovering places that other people like. Bad thing is that it’s impossible to remember who mentions what because it’s like Twitter — it’s a deluge of data that’s unrelenting…like a firehose. There’s only one lukewarm review on Zornado of this place, but since I was in the area, I thought I’d check it out for a quick lunch.
The Bao Place is located on Kingsway, across the street from Metrotown (Superstore). They have a really small menu and focus mainly on steamed bao.
I believe “sio pao” is Hokkien. The owners are actually from Malaysia, so it doesn’t surprise me to see the Hokkien term for steamed buns right on their awning.
Some “stunt baos” in the window. They actually don’t have that big bao yet. I asked about it and the lady said that they’re working on it, and that this style of big-ass bao contains sticky rice. It’s not the big steamed bao that contains soup that you eat with a straw.
This place is TINY. It’s basically just a small takeout bakery with a couple small tables.
Five kinds of savoury bao, plus two sweet bao. You can also get hot soy milk and green onion pancake. Prices include tax, so it makes it easy. I was able to buy a few bao using spare change. Prices are a bit higher than places like New Town, etc, but their particular location away from any direct competition might make it ok to have these somewhat higher prices. I believe they only opened at the beginning of November, so it’s still early days.
Curry Dynamite bao ($2.50) filled with “authentic Malaysian curry”. I LOVE the trickle of sauce that came out of the top.
It’s ground beef and onions inside. Curry filling was good but I need a bit more filling to balance amount of fluffy bao. A bit punchier flavour would be appreciated too. The bun part was lovely though. Very fluffy and smooth. Processed white flour ftw!
Pork Deluxe bao ($3.25) with pork, green onions, jicama, ham, and egg. This one was a touch larger than the curry beef one.
I was impressed with how the egg inside wasn’t overcooked. But I thought the filling could’ve used a bit more seasoning. I bought one for Wicca to try at home, which she nuked the day after. She said it was too salty, so consistency might be an issue right now. If I remember correctly, they put a quarter of an egg in the bun.
BBQ Delight ($2.50) with pork and “handmade Chinese BBQ sauce”. I really quite enjoyed this one. It’s not the typical, bit-too-sweet standard char siu bao, but is instead a minced pork bun with a savoury/sweet sauce that’s closer to the “Chinese BBQ Sauce” you can buy in jars by Lee Kum Kee, rather than typical sweet red sauce. But in retrospect, the buns are a bit small for the price.
Buttermilk bao ($2.25) that contains butter, milk, and egg. The woman there said this was a Malaysian specialty that you can’t get anywhere else. That sold me on it instantly 😛 This bun was nuked a day later, so the surface of the bun got a bit dried out and cracked 🙁
The filling is like a cross between the molten custard buns you get at dim sum, and cocktail buns (gai may bao aka chicken butt buns). I *think* there’s also coconut in the filling because it has a bit of that gritty coconut texture, but I can’t 100% be sure. This probably tasted better fresh, but it needed more filling. Not that impressed with this one but the other buns were enjoyable.
I hope this place lasts but we’ll see how the neighborhood feels about the prices.