Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bao Now, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

Up until about a month ago there was nowhere you could go on the northern side of the CBD when you were suffering from BDS (bao deprivation syndrome).  Now there are two very different choices, Wonderbao which dispenses traditional style bao or the fusion style of Bao Now.

I think Bureaucrat had a bit of a wtf moment when she entered Bao Now.  The menu includes the steamed bao, san choi bao and rice bowls.  They aren’t the normal char sui bao or custard bao though but include Cheeseburger Bao, Buffalo Wings San Choi Bao and Vanilla Slice Bao.  I’d been through before and knew what to expect but I certainly got the impression that she was taken by surprise and a little outside her comfort zone.

This post though is all about my take on Bao Now and with a few caveats I did like it here.  Given it is small and narrow it is surprisingly comfortable eating here, although with only room for 6 inside you’ll need to get here early or trust to luck on getting a seat.  Alternatively you could try for one of the two outside tables – on second thoughts get here early or it’s likely takeaway for you!

Staff are friendly and enthusiastic and obviously pleased with what they had to offer.  What they have to offer, in my opinion, is not the greatest bao in the city but something a bit different, somewhere to go when you want bao but are over the usual pork or combination varieties. 

The bun itself is kind of average, a little dense rather than the light fluffy but filling cloud I prefer.  I’ve tried a few of the fillings and these vary from those I don’t particularly like (bacon and eggs), don’t mind (cheeseburger) and like a lot (Buffalo Wings, Cheesecake and Vanilla Slice).

The main issue with the bacon and eggs was that I found it a little bland and uninteresting.  My grandparents ran a bakery many years ago and the cheeseburger bao kind of reminds me of their old beef mince pies, but in a bao rather than pie casing.

What I liked about the Buffalo Wings is what Bureaucrat and Snooze didn’t like about them, the flavour boosting spicy kick.  Snooze had these as san choi bao, Bureaucrat as rice bowl.  Neither of them are fans of spicy food and so unsurprisingly didn’t really like these.

The biggest divergence of opinion was over the cheesecake and vanilla slice bao.  I found both of these smooth, creamy and delicious.  Snooze is a fan as well and MMM thought they reminded her a little of the bao she had growing up in Singapore.  Bureaucrat though did not like her cheesecake bao.  While we didn’t discuss in detail I think she found it slightly sour and the texture a bit strange and unfamiliar.

A bit embarrassingly given that it was his first foray with us since returning from London I neglected to pay much attention to what the Lawyer offered, but think it might have been a Thai curry rice bowl.  What I do remember though is that given the staff had indicated it wasn’t too spicy it was certainly spicier than he had anticipated.

It’s a little pricier than most of the bao around town and that combined with the texture of the bao not being the best means that it is unlikely to become my favourite.  Probably not my everyday choice for bao but definitely somewhere to go back to when I feel like something a bit different. 

Food – 7
Ambience – 7
Service – 7
Price – 6

119 Hardware Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9670 6394
Bao Now on Urbanspoon


Bureaucrat said...

unfortunately i have nothing positive to say about the place. tis a pity, i was looking fwd to it.

Anonymous said...

hi there!
i ate alot of bao in NYC and i too am suffering BDS - do you have any other hot tips on where to get these in Melb? i have tried wonderbao and the version at taiwan cafe. love your blog :)

Catherine said...

I have the same sentiments as you when it came to the bacon & egg (no thanks), cheeseburger (okay) and cheesecake & buffalo chicken (yum!). I'll be back for the last 2 if I'm ever in the area although that's rare!

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