Food “buzz” in Melbourne seems to come in waves – eg macarons, Mexican, burgers. The humble bao (Chinese-style buns) looks as though it is waiting in the wings, ready to have its 15 minutes of glory. This makes me very happy because, really, what’s not to love about the bao? They’re super portable, servings tend to be small enough so you can have multiple ones without feeling too gluttonous, and can be filled with a wide array of possible fillings.
Enter Wonderbao, a new-ish bao place that opened up in a little laneway off A’Beckett St within RMIT. And it sounded good – glowing reviews, a few vegetarian bao available, and homemade soybean milk. Besides, the name alone made me want to go there.
The Tofu Gua Bao was definitely the pick of the bunch – an open pocket filled with crunchy tofu, picked mustard vegies, and crushed peanuts – it made a tasty (if small) bite.
However, the Choi Bao (vegetable bun) and Nai Wong Bao (egg custard bun, not pictured) were really very average and I’ve had better at other places. The top side of the Choi Bao was just too thick and the filling skimpy and bland, so I had to douse the bao with a lot of (watered-down) sriracha. The egg custard was too heavy and not fragrant enough. The homemade soybean milk didn’t have a very strong soybean flavour.
As much as I wanted to love Wonderbao, I was underwhelmed. Are my tastebuds way off base and am I crazy for not loving it like everyone else? I feel bad for not liking it as much as I’m told I should.
Shop 4, 19-37 A’Beckett St, Melbourne 3000