Remember back to when you were a child and your first moment of tasting ice cream? As adults we rarely get a chance to bite into something we have never tried before, let alone can spell or pronounce.
A few years ago Sydney was bitten by the Bao bug (no relation to our sweet fleshed Balmain crustacean). This soft steamed bun, split in half and stuffed with goodies from pork belly to Korean fried chicken created a cult like following. One of the earliest bao ‘founders’ were Sylvia Tran and Kiren Chua (ex GoodGod Small Club) who started cooking theirs at a market stall.
Busy King’s Street is their new bao home-base. A mural by Simon Wheedon depicts a tropical scene of swinging palms, sunsets, white moons and blue skies which isn’t quite loud enough to compete with the staff’s Hawaiian shirts. This joint is all about Asia from the dark wood ceilings to shelves which are decorated with ABC ketchup Manis, Panda Oyster Sauce tins and Kikkoman soy sauce along with Taiwanese teapots and fresh palm leaves. The sit up bar is the focal point if you want to chat whilst your soda is being made.
But we are here for the big ‘B’s; is it wrong to want to order all six? The Crackling Roast Pork Belly Bao has a layer of mayo, soft pork, pickled slices of radish, coriander and a crispy wafer crackling, it’s gone in a few bites. Panko Crumbed Chicken is amped with a coriander pest aioli while the soft shell crab with spicy watercress and chilli aioli has better harmonies than the Von Trap family. We move onto the bigger buns, a new sensation called Baogers (cross a burger bun with a Bao) – it’s a genius metamorphosis which squishes gloriously together as you bite into braised eggplant, pickles and fresh iceberg lettuce. Arguably Sylvia’s finest moment isn’t a bun but a new noodle she has invented from the bao dough. This is gloriously chewy with attitude, a silky mouthfeel but holds the house-made spicy sate and soy sauce beautifully. Add BBC (Belly Bao Chicken) big wings of sticky or spicy sauce with salted egg and perhaps five spiced mushrooms.
BYO and bring hungry bellies, ready to be fully loaded. This is one spot which is worth making a B-line for.
184 King Street, Newtown