Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wonderbao @ Melbourne CBD

I am happy to see the back logs being drafted in good time and by the time you read this, you should be glad to know I have also finally downloaded all my food pictures from the phone and camera. 

Wonderbao opened with a lot of coverage from the food blogs, Urbanspoon and even on Facebook. Specialising as the name suggests in "baos" or buns, you can have it any style as long as it is steamed (with the exception (to a certain extent) of the gua bao, the sandwich bao made famous by David Chang from Momofuku).

As with most places receiving rave reviews, there's always a crowd (I tend to stay away from crowds). Although the more troubling issue was they initially didn't open on weekends. So when they finally decided to open on Saturdays, the week before they were closing for the year, we popped in. Word of warning, it took us 5 minutes walking along A'Beckett Street before finding it rather hidden and tucked away behind some rather inconspicuous road facing shop lots.   

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As expected, there were a few "traditional" bao options and a few, well exactly 3 fillings if you wanted a gua bao. With less than 10 seats around we were lucky to get some seats, although I suspect otherwise on a busier weekday.   

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The Wife was starving and we got right into it with what essentially is a steam chinese hot dog (with a chinese sausage) and the more famous custard bun. While the fillings were pretty decent, the bun wasn't as fine or fluffy as what you will get in a good Hong Kong yum cha meal. Then again, at the cost of less then a cup of coffee, I can't really complain. 

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The Gua Bao(s) were next and we ordered the trio. The vegetarian version was surprisingly good, I suspect because the smooth silky tofu was given the deep fried treatment. The pork ones come either braised (the traditional Taiwanese way) or roasted slathered with (rather disappointingly) canned hoisin sauce (well at least that was what I spotted at the kitchen). That aside, the flavours were good; delicious fatty pork balanced with a little acidity from the pickled and preserved vegetables.

Wash it down with soya bean and hmm we had a pretty satisfying and "different" breakfast.

That said coming at about under 4 dollars a bun, you will need two to do you any good and maybe another classic bao for good measure. Alas coupled with the 4 dollar an hour parking outside the street, our meal of baos was suddenly looking a little expensive, bearing in mind these were meant to be economical, culturally and historically. 

I guess its a different story if you stay walking distance from the place or able to hop over for a take away lunch but if you have to drive down and find parking (like we did), I am not sure the baos are enticing enough to come again and re-visit (although I wouldn't mind).

Address and contact details:
      
Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. A refreshing new take on a staple that has been around for ages but would like to see it go even further with maybe some funky new flavours.

2 comments:

msihua said...

If this was nearer to me, I'd be there every day! Luckily it's too hard to get to during lunchtime!

Eliza Soh said...

Looks good! Can't wait to try it when I'm in Melbourne again. My current fav is Ippudo's pork belly pau.=D