Food & Drink

Bao Down for 9 Of The Best Steamed Buns In Auckland

By Urban List Writers
8th Nov 2020

A delicious stuffed bao from Kai Eatery

Baos, or also known as gua bao (刈包) in Chinese, are fluffy pillows of happiness filled with crispy golden pork belly with just the right mix of grazed honey and savory soy. Although originally a much-loved street food in Fujian and Taiwan, you’ll be pleased to hear that Auckland dishes them out in bulk too. 

From pork belly buns to make-your-own versions, we’ve eaten our way around Auckland to find its best baos. You’re welcome. 

Kai Eatery 

CBD, Commercial Bay, Takapuna

You can't go wrong with Taiwanese when it comes to gua bao—it's where the dish came from after all. Kai Eatery brings you baos in their most authentic, Taiwanese street style, with the options of crispy fried chicken, tender pork belly, or bulgogi beef. As a restaurant that started out as a street food stall, their baos will transport you to the buzzing night markets of Taipei, where the scent of honey, BBQ sauce, and fried chicken lures you from every direction.   

The Po' Bao at Bao baby Bao - Creole fried soft shell crab, slaw, lemon & ginger remoulade

Bao Baby Bao

Auckland CBD

Tucked inside the cosy alley of Elliot Stables is the Chinese street food specialist Bao Baby Bao: you can smell their food before you see them. With a menu focused on steamed baos, they offer a good creative menu with slow roasted pork belly, Philly cheese steak, crispy crab (pictured above), and vegetarian baos. However, our all time favourite has to be their famous "angry bird" crispy southern fried chicken bao made with buttermilk fried free range chicken and stuffed with pickled cucumber, sesame seeds and sriracha mayo—a must try for spice lovers.  

Master Bao

Newmarket

The name says it all. How can you miss a place that literally has "bao" in its name if you are looking for the best buns in the city? Master Bao at Westfield, Newmarket for sure lives up to its name when it comes to all steamed goodies. They even have pan-fried bao which are like little dumplings and are absolutely worth a try. They have a variety of crispy pork, chicken (crispy or teriyaki) and fish, as well as a vegetarian option comprising vegetarian 'ham' and portobello mushroom. You know you are in for an authentic ride when the menu is in Chinese. 

three of Blue Breeze Inn's infamous pork belly baos

The Blue Breeze Inn 

Ponsonby 

People go crazy for The Blue Breeze Inn’s buns and we don’t blame them. Nestled in the centre of Ponsonby, you'll find the Asian eatery busy and buzzing at any time of the day, and we would go just for the baos. A hunk of crackling-heavy pork belly is nestled within a soft steamed bun alongside pickled cucumber, coriander and a finger-lickin’ sweet sauce. They also have crispy tofu buns so you vegos don’t get FOMO. 

Chop Chop

Ponsonby 

Brisket is having a moment and the fact that it's collided with bao has made us (and our bellies) pretty damn chuffed. Chop Chop’s smoked brisket bun will get you fired up with the addition of kimchi and Deputy Chang’s crazy hot sauce or settle for some seafood via the soft-shell crab, creamed corn and coriander bun. There’s also a pork and crab version if that’s your jam. 

happy boy auckland steamed buns, with buns shaped like a burger

Happy Boy Eatery

Royal Oak

Truly inheriting the international spirit of Auckland, these guys fused baos with burgers to give us the best of both worlds. The steamed buns replace regular burger buns makes it a 10/10 pillowy, fluffy experience—especially when paired with their juicy pork. Happy Boy has tons of different options when it comes to their steamed bun burgers. Vegetarians, do us a favour and try their tofu, thank us later. Happy Boy really do serve up some of the best buns in Auckland. 

Nanam Eatery

Takapuna 

Have you ever had a AYO TacoPao? No? Hop to it! Nanam in Takapuna will provide you with the satisfying experience of assembling your own buns. But these ain’t no regular steamed buns. These home made rolled beetroot buns are hot pink and, when filled with sticky pork belly, chicharron and pickles, they’re almost tooth pretty to sink your teethies into. There's also a veggie version available so everyone can get in on the 'grammable action.

A karage chicken bao at Chinoiserie.

Chinoiserie 

Mt Albert 

While its funky fit out, buzzy vibes and friendly service makes this Mt Albert restaurant one of the best in the area, it’s the gua bao that reels in the masses. Chinoiserie’s line-up of bao buns features karaage fried chicken, pressed tofu, coconut crusted squid, NZ beef patty and the all time favourite—braised five spice pork belly with Gong (a.k.a. crack) sauce, bok choi, coriander and crushed peanuts.  

White + Wong’s

Viaduct, Newmarket 

This restaurant chain has jumped on the steamed bun frenzy with Chinese roast pork belly and Korean fried chicken gua baos. Taking the intricate flavours of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, White + Wong's brings creative Asian fusion to a whole new level. Whichever one you decide to sample, you’re in for a treat. Grab a Blushing Buddha cocktail to turn your bao adventure into the start of a night out on the town. 

Is all this pork belly chat making you hungry for more? Here’s Auckland’s Best Pork Belly Everything. 

Image credit: Kai Eatery, Bao Baby Bao, Blue Breeze Inn, Happy Boy Eatery, Chinoisere

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