The Man(tou) Hunt – 7 Asian Bao Dishes You Need To Try
The French might be known for their baguettes; the Americans for their donuts and bagels. And for us Asians, we have our mantous and baos. Increasingly, these baos have been taking center stage, usurping the usual bread and buns to inject some oriental influence. The result is a bunch of unique fusion dishes that elevates the usual standard fare to another level. From bao burgers to mantou sliders, we’ve rounded a list of bao dishes to kick start your gastronomical adventure.
Full Of Luck Club
Your favourite Asian cuisine gets a modern makeover with their line of ‘chinese hamburgers’ made from their very own Bao Bar. We had their Kung Pao Fried Chicken and Panko-crusted Portobello Baos ($9.80 for two), which came sandwiched between some freshly steamed baos. The kung pao burger was strangely reminiscent of chicken in rojak sauce, but the crispy fried chicken and crunchy peanuts contrasted well with the soft and moist buns. The vegetarian portobello burger was the underdog for us, with the tropical sweetness from the grilled pineapples and meaty portobello coming together to form a veggie burger unlike any we’ve tasted before.
Full Of Luck Club
Address: 243 Holland Ave, Singapore 278977
Phone: +65 6208 6845
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 11am – 11pm
What does the art deco movement and eastern mantous have in common? This seemingly impossible and quirky pairing is made possible at Wanna Cuppa, a cafe inspired by the 1920s Gatsby glamour and their Golden Mantou Sliders ($17.90). But apart from the quintessential components of a good slider – caramelised onions atop a wagyu beef patty that’s still pink in the middle – the swapping of regular burger buns for deep fried mantous make for a sweet and sinful base that holds up the weight of the burger better.
Address: 15 New Bridge Road, Singapore 059385
Phone: +65 6816 2494
Opening Hours: Mon – Thu: 8:30am – 10pm; Fri: 8:30am – 12am; Sat: 10am – 12am; Sun: 10am – 6pm
Known for their fusion tapas and laid back vibe, the flavour combination of the Salted Egg Yolk (SEY) Cheese Soft Shell Crab Slider ($14) is as surprising as the location of Lepark. Situated on the top of a multi-storey car park, the unexpected mix of cheese and salted egg yolk came together to form an addictive sauce that we couldn’t get enough of. It was used to drench the chunks of soft shell crab fritters and steamed buns, and we liked how they each came crowned with a crab meatball.
Let’s get right down to it – the Komba Bao ($6) served at Dojo packs a punch. Their crispy mantou buns come stuffed with a generous helping of braised pork belly, which made for a sinful update on this traditional dish. There’s no better way to get into this than getting your fingers dirty and dive straight in. The sturdy and crispy buns made for a nice juxtaposition against the tender chunks of braised meat.
Address: 72 Circular Road, Singapore 049426
Phone: +65 6438 4410
Opening Hours: Mon – Thu: 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm; Fri: 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 11:30pm; Sat: 5pm – 10pm
It seems like Bao Makers have found the right formula when it comes to updating classic Asian flavours for the modern palate. Expect a wide selection of their Asian bao creations served in a minimalistic interior. The Bulgogi Bao ($5.30) was served with slices of pork marinated in spicy sauce and topped with spring onions. But the clear winner was the Chilli Crab Bao ($5.80), which is exactly how we would want a chilli crab burger to taste like – packed with juicy crabmeat chunks in a spicy chilli sauce with coriander and fried onions. And extending the same bao obsession to their dessert is the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Bao ($5) which came with a freshly fried sweet bun and a scoop of ice cream. As confusing as the dish might be – warm, cold, crispy and creamy at the same time – we found ourselves polishing off the dish in mere minutes.
The Pulled Char Siew Sliders ($15) from The Tuckshop was undoubtedly a good combination of homemade buttery brioche buns and savoury char siew flavoured pulled pork, but each of these sliders that works out to be more than $5 a pop makes it hard to enjoy the dish fully. We’ll gladly have the standard char siew pau instead.
Address: 403 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399795
Phone: +65 6291 2330
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 12pm – 10pm; Sat: 11am – 10pm; Sun: 11am – 6pm
The usual open faced sandwich gets an eastern overhaul in the form of Creamy Salted Egg Yolk Eggs Benedict With Grilled Prawns ($17) from Drury Lane. Resting atop their steamed white buns are two poached eggs and grilled prawns, and drizzled generously with their creamy salted egg yolk sauce. The runny yolk and salted egg sauce was soaked up and paired nicely with the plain steamed buns, but we would have preferred a stronger salted egg yolk taste to come through from the sauce.
Address: 94 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088515
Phone: +65 6744 8205
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 5pm – 12am; Sat – Sun: 11am – 12am