The humble bao bun has come a long way since it entered Sydney’s food scene almost 10 years ago.
Soft, fluffy steamed baos have become a popular go-to snack for Sydneysiders, and who are we to disagree? These pillowy buns of goodness are stuffed full of flavour – from traditional Taiwanese-style bao buns to modern Japanese-inspired versions. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the top places to get your hands on the best bao buns, from trendy restaurants to casual eateries and everything in between.
Belly Bao was a former market stall and GoodGod Small Club eatery, before moving onto their own stand-alone venue. Their entire restaurant is set around the bao, which takes centre position on their mouth-watering menu. Each bao bun is handmade fresh daily and steamed to perfection. Tuck into a soft bun with a range of delicious fillings like roast pork belly, crispy fried chicken and savoury tofu. Alongside the bao buns, Belly Bao also offers a selection of small plates and sides, like crispy fried chicken wings, edamame, and loaded fries.
Find Belly Bao at 184 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
Bao Brothers story begins at the Newcastle Farmers Market, where they became so popular, they started catering signature Bao Buns at national music events, weddings and food festivals. The team are dedicated to serving creative and innovative Asian flavours, taking Gua Bao to a whole new level. On their menu you can find the OG Chicken Bao with Chilli Mayo and Sesame, Crumbed Mushroom with Pickled Ginger and Soy Mayo and even a Bao Burger, loaded with classic burger ingredients all wrapped up in a soft bao bun.
Find Bao Brothers at 38 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008
A modern Thai spot right on Paddington’s bustling Oxford Street, Chubby Cheeks offers delicious Asian cuisine inspired by the traditional flavours and spices of Bangkok. Though they have just one bao bun on their menu, it’s one of the most popular items. The Chubby Cheeks pork bao comes with crackling pork belly, pickled vegetables and sriracha kewpie (and you might want to consider ordering more than one serving). It’s soft, crispy and flavourful all in one bite. Looking for a vegetarian option? You can substitute the pork for a tofu option instead.
Find Chubby Cheeks at 437 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021
Cho Cho San
Inspired by the street Izakayas of Japan, Cho Cho San dishes up the best of Japanese cuisine, alongside an impressive cocktail list and great bar vibe. There’s something for everyone to enjoy and the menu caters to a wide variety of diners, with starters, share plates and more dessert to go around than ever. Grab a drink and a few bites from the izakaya snack section – make sure to order their pork bao, filled with crispy, crunchy pork tonkatsu. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also order their DIY Crab Bao, available as a pre-order. Build your own buns with salt-baked mud crab, kombu potato scallops, cucumber pickles, brown butter ponzu, and gojuchang mayo.
Find Cho Cho San at 73 Macleay St, Potts Point NSW 2011
Best known for their hand-pulled ramen noodles and hearty broths, a lesser known gem on the Ippudo menu are their bao buns. These buns are perfect on their own or as a delicious side to your ramen – made lovingly by the Wonderbao team in Melbourne. There are three signature baos to choose from: Pork Belly, Karaage Chicken and Prawn Katsu, all served with Ippudo’s (secret) original sauce. You can order one bao to enjoy on its own, or pick your choice of 3 buns.
Find your nearest Ippudo location here.
Bao buns have been a staple of Asian street food for centuries, and at Rice Pantry, their buns have been said to be the best St Peters and Marrickville has to offer! You can choose between four fillings including their famous Viet Chicken, Honey Yuzu Prawn, XOXO Eggpland and Crispy Pork Belly. There’s also other items on the menu with a modern Vietnamese twist, like Crab & Prawn Netted Spring Rolls, Double Nem Nuong Burger and Sriracha Loaded Fries.
Find Rice Pantry at 20 Smidmore St, Marrickville NSW 2204 and 705/75 Mary St, St Peters NSW 2044.
Little Viet Kitchen
Located right on Manly, Little Viet Kitchen serves up authentic street eats including bao buns and rice paper rolls. Choose between Crackling 5 Spice Beef, Lemongrass Beef, Coconut Chicken or Temple Tofu, all inspired by southern Vietnamese flavours. All bao buns come with house pickles, cucumber, hoisin sauce, chilli and coriander. If you’re peckish to try other dishes, you’ll be pleased to know there are more than 20+ other eats for you to enjoy.
Find Little Viet Kitchen at 5/54-68 West Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095.