So what are bao? Maybe the question should actually be - what aren't they? Short for "baozi", they are a type of steamed, filled bun or bread-like item hailing all the way from Chinese cuisine. The inherent beauty of them is that they're usually not that big, so they can be enjoyed as a snack or a starter alongside other kinds of Asian food - they work really well in a "pick n mix". Because the key ingredients are often some kind of dough-like substance filled with meat or veg, they lend themselves well to a variety of different fillings. You'll find fusion versions cropping up here, there and everywhere as well. Here's how to enjoy them in all of their delightful forms.
1. Banh Bao Vietnamese - Hafudog
This is fusion food at its finest. Bao meets hot dog with the Banh Bao Vietnamese at Hafudog, and we just don't know how to describe it. Is it Chinese? Vietnamese? Or even American? Who cares - we just know that it tastes delicious. All natural sausages are served on an all natural bun and you get the choice between chicken and pork. As if that wasn't enough, it's dressed with hot mayo, pickled carrot and daikon as well as chilli, cucumber and coriander. It's hot - that's for sure.
2. Char Siew Bao - Top Seafood Ulu Pandan
A Char Siew Bao from Top Seafood Ulu Pandan follows the traditional Cantonese recipe. Taking the shape of a yummy BBQ pork bun, there's plenty of flavour in teeny-tiny bite-sized amounts. While they may well be small in size, they're certainly not lacking in taste. Just one of these babies feels like a little barbecue party in your mouth. The beauty of them is that you don't have to settle for just one... you can eat and eat and eat!
3. Garlic Chicken Bao - Bao Bao
Garlic and chicken are two of our very favourite things. So when we tried Garlic Chicken Bao from Bao Bao, we instantly fell in love. These guys are serious about bao - as if you couldn't tell from their name - but that's not a gimmick, because it really shows. Along with the meat you also get loads of other tasty treats packed up neatly inside. The cilantro, cabbage, pickled carrot and other extras go a long way to ensure that these are as flavourful as can be. We'll take a few, please!
4. Steamed Shanghai Xiao Long Bao - Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
These bao are of a very special variety - and in fact, some actually call them soup dumplings. Best enjoyed as a snack as part of "dim sum", this particular variety comes from a suburb of Shanghai. They're recreated well at Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, which is how they'll make their way to your table all the way over here. Filled with mince meat, they're dainty but doughy and ultimately delicious.
Looking for something new and delicious to try? Find the very best in bao right here on Deliveroo.