I was thrilled to be invited by Lisa of Bao Town PR to a bao tasting. Bao (pronounced like ‘bow’) are snack-sized steamed buns of Chinese origin that can contain any kind of savoury or sweet filling. Even more thrilling is that the bao chef is none other than Theresa, whose food blog, The Gook I’ve admired and photographs I’ve drooled over many times. Anyway, enough fangirling, so once a month, for three months beginning in October, Vella Nero will host Bao Town, a pop-up bao venture. Whilst growing up, Theresa’s nan made bao as an after school snack , the ones we tried were made from a family recipe and they seriously rock. Read in detail about Theresa’s bao story here.
Before commencing the review here are important facts you need to know:
Mark your calendar now. October 12th.
10am to 5pm or until sold out.
Located at Vella Nero Cafe. 259 Clarence Street, Sydney CBD
$3.50 each or 3 for $10
There will be a November and December pop-up.
Keep up to date with Bao Town news on Facebook, Twitter, or the Website
Let the bao tasting…begin!
Pork belly slow cooked for 4 hours in young coconut juice, soy n’ fish sauce and star anise. The homemade buns encasing the fillings have a slight chewy, elastic quality, they are utterly enjoyable to eat. And unlike some buns which you come across in Chinatown, where you have to excavate mountains of dough before you reach any filling, these have been rolled out thinly, so you have bun and filling all in one pillowy soft bite.
These vegetarian bao contain silky smooth eggplant with shiro miso, sake, mirin, sesame seeds, ginger and coriander salsa. The filling in these were very darn delicious and my tastebuds practically sang from the vibrant coriander salsa.
Some salads on the side were rustled up just for us food bloggers so unfortunately they won’t be on the menu but here they are in photo form.
Bo kho means beef stew in Vietnamese, here beef chuck have been slow cooked in soy sauce, tomato, lemongrass and cinnamon until meltingly soft. These are spot on flavour-wise and incredibly comforting, like the feeling of eating the best stews you’ve ever had, wrapped in a neat little package.
Chunks of chicken in a superb, fragrant curry sauce of tumeric, curry leaves, fish sauce and coconut cream. I only just noticed how there is a variety of pork, beef, chicken and vegetarian bao, something for everyone
Refreshments included some ingratiating Vietnamese ice coffee using Vella Nero’s Sydney Royal Silver-winning espresso blend and Strangelove Organic Energy Elixir Ginger Beer, of which the ingredient list includes lemon, cinnamon, yerba mate and green tea for stimulation. Ginger lovers will adore this drink, it will be available for purchase on the pop-up days along with your bao. Or by itself, either way it’s a fantastic drink.
Two sweet bao have been developed especially for the pop-up, they are the molten chocolate and lemon polenta.
Melted chocolate in a bun sounds simple enough, but listen up when I tell you the filling is made from Marou’s single origin 76% dark chocolate with cane sugar, it’s crafted in Saigon and has characteristics of honey. These bao are marshmallowy soft pockets with a rich, oozy hot chocolate filling, one is at risk of falling in love with them like I have, mi amore!
For those of you who are non-chocolate lovers and therefore crazy, there is a bao for you, the lemon polenta bao is like a zesty and moist lemon cake, a touch sweet and a delightful dessert bao.
These pop-ups are to test the possibility of a permanent BaoTown, which I am all for, I genuinely enjoyed everything not just because I’m a fan of Theresa but like she says about working in hospitality “it’s a love job” and when the people involved in a project are this dedicated and impassioned, you can’t help but wish them every success. And so, I’ll be seeing you there on the 12th for some of these tasty morsels XD
To thank us all for coming we were given a goodie bag containing something from the sponsors: a bottle of sriracha sauce, Vella Nero espresso beans, a copy of Time Out (my diary is suddenly full of fun things to see and do!), bottle of Strangelove ginger beer and a sample size of Marou chocolate.
Vella Nero normal operating hours:
Sat & Sun: CLOSED (will be open for the Baotown pop-up)
Mon – Fri: 7am to 4pm