Perth, go ahead and take a bao because you are truly killing it at Asian street eats. While we don’t like to play favourites with our food, the soft pillowy goodness of a bao bun—stuffed with crispy, crunchy fillings like fried chicken or soft shell crab—has got to be one of the best culinary creations that we’ve ever eaten.
Here are Perth’s best bao spots (caution: drool-worthy eats ahead).
Lucky Chan’s Laundry + Noodle Bar
If there’s one thing just about everyone in Perth can agree on, it’s that Lucky Chan’s does a mighty fine bao. This tried and true eatery has perfected the balance of their soft and chewy bao bun, within which they load punchy flavour profiles such as southern fried chicken, Thai grilled pork and smoked shiitake. They also do a fried whiting bao with jalapeno salsa and chipotle aioli—heck yes, we'll take 20.
From baogers to baowiches, Sixty Grams has it all in the way of the fluffy delight. Take your pick from The O.G baoger—a grilled beef patty, cheese, and chipotle mayo, the JFC baowhich—chicken karaage, fried shallot and sriracha mayo, or the one we're most excited about—the GILA—sweet and spicy marinated chicken coated in Mi Goreng!
What The Bao
Fremantle & Perth CBD
Unsurprisingly (their name says it all), What The Bao is notorious for serving up some of the most tantalising bao that Perth has to offer. From Japanese panko chicken to soft shell crab and roasted duck dressed with hoisin, these guys are easily one of our top picks when navigating the eateries of the Freo markets.
Miss Chow’s might call them 'snacks' on their menu but you know as well as we do that these pocket rockets make main meals quake in their boots (or bowls). Our pick is the pork bao, but the chicken, soft shell crab, and tofu versions are also delish. Why not fill yourself to the brim and order one of each?
Authentic Bites Dumpling House
If you're after a true Chinese cuisine experience, cult-favourite, Authentic Bites Dumpling House, will be the answer to your prayers, as they boast a menu of some of the juiciest bao that you'll find in Perth. Dig into some classic bao flavours among the likes of pork, crab, and prawn, before moving onto their cousins—the beloved dumpling.
Next time you hit up Asian roasting house, Dainty Dowager, make sure you snag the fried chicken bao—what is not to love about that description? Also, you would be doing a disservice to your palette if you didn't then wash it down with one of their many signature cocktails—we can't get over the Forbidden City and Wild Fox Kang.
Old Lane Street Eats
If you haven’t been to Old Lane Street Eats yet, then stop what you’re doing, grab your wallet and take the quickest mode of transport there right now. Upon arrival (after studying the menu on your way, of course), head straight to the 'baos and buns' section and order the marmite chicken bao and the roti John. Your life will never be the same again.
Juicy Bao Bao
It is perhaps a wise idea to ensure your stomach elasticity is in optimal condition when you next plan on visiting Juicy Bao Bao, because their Shanghai-style buns are larger than life. With vego options and BYO available, be prepared for your whole party to roll out just as steamed and soft as the buns themselves.
The Guildford Hotel
Whether you’re after chicken katsu, Korean pork belly or spicy lemongrass tofu option, The Guildford has you covered when you’ve got a hankering for a pocket of fluffy goodness. Their bao buns are loaded with Asian-inspired slaws and sauces, and the best part is that they're a certified 'one-handed' menu item—freeing up the other to hold the all-important beverage of choice.
T Sisters Fresh Food
With three generations of family recipes to share, T Sisters Fresh Food dishes up authentic bao, dumplings, satay and all sorts of no-fuss delicious eats. They pop up all over the place so check out their Facebook page to find out where to get your fix.
If you're down for a spread, head to Chapas for a variety of baos that hail from different provinces in China and Hong Kong and have been refined to their ultimate bao state. You can expect to see menu items like vegetarian sang choi bao, fried chicken bao, or our favourite, crab sang choi bao with black truffle sauce.
Mel & Co Garden
For a true bao experience like no other, head to Mel & Co Garden where you can wear the chef's hat (metaphorically speaking) and DIY your own pork belly bao with pineapple salsa, aji amarillo aoili, and freshly picked produce from the veggie garden to reap the rewards of both the mouth-watering flavours and loaded nutrients.
Perched from above in Westfield Carousel's upper restaurant hub, Little Bao not only oozes design-goals from all angles but also offers delicately crafted bao, dumplings and noodle soups to suit any craving that you may find yourself the victim of.
As efficient as the name suggests, at BamBamBoo you can utilise the speedy iPad service to instantly order your favourites, such as honey bbq chicken, soft shell crab or pork belly bao—that is, after you finally manage to drag yourself away from the wondrous open kitchen.
Once you've worked your way through this list, we suggest checking out Perth's Best Dumplings.
Image credit: Elle Borgward, Emma Bryant