The map above is rather self-explanatory, that’s the location of the corner shop ‘Wonderbao’ that does steaming bao for a reasonably priced snack or lunch. It will no doubt benefit from close proximity to RMIT and the hordes of Asians in the Melbourne CBD that crave for the simple and humble bao that transports them back to their homelands. I trekked down to Wonderpao this week as I anticipated a lesser crowd in the semester break. There was still a 5-min wait in the queue but I received my order in a jiffy.
This establishment is truely an attractive addition to the scene because it does not serve up the soggy or limped-skin baos in the various yum cha joints in Chinatown. I find the skin of the bao relatively fluffy, yet of sufficient density to offer slight sticky resistence as you chomp into them. This is a sign that there is speedy turnover of bao, chugging through the steamers, so that there is little chance for excessive amounts of steam to infiltrate the airpockets of the flour-caked skin.
There are several tradition options on the menu which you should grab when there are 4 ahead of you in the queue to order. The ba bao (大包) affords you ample options of chicken or pork, with a slither of egg and a mushroom. These cost $3.20. There is also the typical BBQ’d pork bao (叉烧包) which is filled with BBQ’d pork that is not-so-typical as it lacks the bright reddish colour. Do not take this as a sign of weakness as it reflects non-commercialised approaches to preparation.
There are slightly off-the-cuff choices such as the pork belly bao or the tofu bao which take slightly longer to be presented to you and will set you back $3.80.
For desert, what else?! Try the sweet filling bao which you simply shouldn’t turn your backs to. For $1.70, you can have the custard bao ‘nai huang’ (奶黄包) or the taro bao (芋头包). As I had indicated in a previous post, my heart belongs to the custard bao of Shangri-La hotel in Singapore. However, if I was tempted to cheat, then this would have to be my pick of the line-up. Thankfully, the custard filling doesn’t have a plasticky texture and isn’t clumpy. It still lacks further buttering to take it to the richness level that I’d adore. In contrast, I love the dense taro filling. I regard these two filling as belonging to universes apart, and rightly so, otherwise dessert bao would be too much alike to cause any ruckus of excitement.
Overall, Wonderpao is a nice business that will be an undoubted success. If their standards of preparation are maintained, and prices unchanged, I will be returning for a regular dose of Vit bao. Wonderbao is open in the mornings and afternoons, so grab a couple for brekkie or a lunch snack!