March 1, 2013

Shop 4/19-37 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne
Readers, please meet Wonderbao, my favourite new find in the city. I know it’s been topping urbanspoon for months, but I only got around to visiting earlier this week and was thrilled at what I found. Please allow me to share…
Wonderbao is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place wedged behind RMIT, and they deal exclusively in bao, steamed dumplings with various fillings (usually, in true Chinese style, pork). For such a small place, they’ve styled it very well, and the kitchen is mainly open so diners can see these great big wonderful steamers working their magic. The food is ridiculously cheap too, with a BBQ pork bao coming in at only $2. I would call that dangerously cheap for someone who passes by here every day…

I really love mushrooms so seeing this in store made me love the place even more. Grow your own pearl oyster mushrooms, what a lovely idea!

The menu is small and concise; steamed buns. Half are those great big fluffy kinds, the favourite being the BBQ pork. Other flavours include egg and Chinese sausage, and some sweet varieties like egg custard. The other half of the menu are those smaller steamed buns that fold over like a little open sandwich, the kind Momofuku genius David Chang championed first in NYC and then in Sydney.

Mmm, blurry / steamy goodness..

I went with S and T, and we were STARVING after a rather dull orientation session at uni, so ordered a few sets of bao to share. First up, the everybody’s-favourite-but-it’s-favoured-for-a-reason char siu bao. Sex them up with a healthy dose of Sriracha chilli sauce.

From L-R, braised pork belly gua bao, roast pork belly gua bao and fried silky tofu gua bao.

I didn’t get to try the roast pork, but S and T both reported it was the best of the three. Pork belly was also good, very fatty but had a nice crunch from the peanuts. I wasn’t a huge fan of the tofu, but then I’m not a fan of raw coriander so that probably had something to do with it.

Drink options are limited, but really you come here for the buns, not the drinks. We sampled some Yeo’s fruit boxes, my favourite was the lychee.

After demolishing those, we were still hungry so ordered another round of the char siu boa, but the guy taking our order (rather rudely) said, ‘you guys eat a lot’. I don’t think he meant it maliciously, but he really should work on his delivery; we did not appreciate being told that. Anyway, I suppressed my sassy rebuke (“Boy, don’t ‘chu tell ME what I can and cannot eat!”), sat down and enjoyed my last bao, OH YES I DID! *Snaps fingers*. Sorry.


And while I have your attention, please look at this, it’ll make you smile.

Wonderbao on Urbanspoon