From the classic porky buns to east-west mashups, Sydney’s baos cover a plethora of continents. One thing is for certain, whatever your stuffing of choice, you’ll struggle to try just one. Fluffy, steamy and as soft as a dream, each bun acts as the perfect balance for an inevitably rich filling (which practically makes them a health food in our books!) Okay fine, even if that’s not entirely true, there’s something to be said about the deliciousness of Sydney’s best baos.
Want to feel like you’ve actually been transported to Asia? New Shanghai has all the bao options to ensure you’re totally stuffed. Bring a crew to ensure you can try them all. Start off with Shanghai’s legendary Xiao Long Bao (which comes in both the traditional crab and pork), then gorge on the pan fried pork buns until you get pork belly (we’re referring to the bun in this case).
Small Bar & Kitchen
You might not look at this Kirribilli bar and expect there will be perfectly pillow soft baos waiting inside, but you'll be in for a treat if you go ahead and try. Small Bar & Kitchen Kirribilli's pork belly bao comes with chilli, soy, crunchy pickles and a sprinkling of sesame, and we are big fans. Pair it with one of their delicious cocktails for a boozy bao experience, and you'll soon find yourself with a new local haunt.
Bondi Farmers Markets and Chinatown Night Markets
Hold onto your bao, Mr Bao takes its inspiration from everywhere delicious. Karaage chicken, panko prawn and crackling pork belly are crispy regulars, while surprises can range from soft shell crab to Nutella. Vegetarians can also get in on the crispy action with the agedashi tofu bao. Grab some sriracha and indulge in them at the Bondi Farmers Markets (Saturday 9am – 1pm) or seek them out amongst the hustle and bustle of the Chinatown Night Markets (Fridays 4pm-11pm).
Belly Bao are where burgers and bao meet—literally. Nestled between dishes of slow braised pork belly baos you’ll see the toasty white “baogers” on Thursday nights. The mashups continue with their baonana split and strawbelly bao which could potentially give dessert pizzas a run for their money.
If you find some kimchi in your bao, don’t be alarmed, Bondi restaurant China Diner knows their stuff. Whether you go the pork belly route or try the smoked tofu, you’re in for a treat. Grab a cocktail while you’re at it to turn your bao adventure into the start of a special night out.
Like your bao pleated to perfection right in front of you? You can’t get much fresher than Bun Gallery, where your pork or green veggie buns are pan fried or steamed to order. If you ever wished you had a Chinese grandmother who would bring you home-made bao, these come in a pretty close second to that!
Have a hankering for something that straddles salty, sweet and gloriously umami? Emperor’s Garden char siu buns are some of the best, and their complexion would make Snow White jealous. Plus they double up as an excellent cure for post-Friday-night. Catch ‘em early (10am counts as early for a weekend) for buns straight out of the steamer, and sneak a tray to enjoy at home too.
Image Credit: Lisa Brooke at China Diner Bondi