We all love a good bao, but what are they? Burgers? Sandwiches? Surely not muffins. Perhaps incredibly soft tacos? I’ve no idea. You ask me what a bao is, I’ll say a bao is downright delicious.
The humble bao is as tasty as anything, as varied as you can imagine, and so cute it could be a pokémon. Indeed, these fluffy, ever-so-slightly chewy lil munchables have won the hearts and minds of people everywhere—and for good reason.
So, if you’ve got a hankering for the most adorable snack around, get to it!
76 Skyring Tce, Newstead
You may assume by the clash of styles—hot pink spaceship meets jungle temple—that these guys are fooling around. They’re not. Ping Pong serves up some blisteringly brilliant Thai food, and some interstellar bao. The sriracha and honey chicken bao presents that sweet spiciness for which Thai cuisine is famed. For those of the vego persuasion, a panko mushroom bao yields a soft/crunchy/juicy combination guaranteed to put a smile on that dial.
NOM NOM Bao
4/6 Warner St, Fortitude Valley
A fusion bar like no other, Nom Nom Bao offers a tasty range of salads, bowls, curries, and sizzling mains drawn from the cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan to name a few. Best of all, they do bao—and they aren’t messing around. I’m talking teriyaki fried chicken, Korean spicy chicken or beef, grilled pork belly, tempura prawn, seared salmon. They’ve got the lot, and they’ve nailed it.
10 Fish Ln, South Brisbane
Well, if it isn’t one of the cheekiest haunts in Brisbane! Hello Please offers a delightful range of South-East-Asian delicacies with good vibes and relaxing surrounds. They’ve got spanner crab in betel leaf, udon noodles done cacio e pepe, and a selection of glorious banquets—plus, a stunning eggplant katsu bao with miso mayo, cabbage, and bulldog sauce (a Japanese take on Worcestershire sauce, freakin’ delicious).
49/342 McCullough St, Sunnybank
One of the finest Asian fusion restaurants in Brisbane, Southside Bistro contributes in no small way to Sunnybank’s reputation as a veritable melting pot of incredible cuisine. Here, the flavours go off like fireworks—lychee coconut and tamarind créme brûlée, cuttlefish arancini, chicken cassoulet, and an asian mushroom gnocchi to name a few. And their bao are off the chain. Southside Bistro does a succulent selection of our favourite lil buns including panko crumbed pork with Hong Kong style tomato gravy, peanut butter tofu, and a one-of-a-kind sous-vide Hainan chicken bao that is the stuff of dreams. Yes please.
Plan K Kitchen
3/191 Sir Fred Schonell Dr, St Lucia
This is, truly, a hidden gem. Buried deep in St Lucia, Plan K Kitchen serves up some of the best Malaysian food around, bringing that hearty, home-cooked sensation that makes you feel like you’re wearing a blanket. They do nasi lemak, kampung fried rice, and arguably the best beef rendang on the east coast. And the bao? Try karaage chicken on a charcoal bao with pork floss; it’ll rock your world.
36 Vernon Tce, Teneriffe
Bar and kitchen Zero Fox specialises in craft beer, excellent spirits, and casual Japanese and Korean dining. They do a range of small dishes, bowls, baskets, sushi and sashimi perfect for whiling away an afternoon or getting an evening started! Deserving of particular acclaim is their list of bao. These things are serious: We’re talking bulgogi beef baos, soft shell crab, sweet soy chicken, crispy salmon, and mushroom and sweet potato. Get on it!
25 Caxton St, Paddington
A funky ramen bar on Latrobe Terrace, Hai Hai serves up simple, well-composed noodles with a broad selection of customisations and all the extras you could want. They also do a range of izakaya (we strongly recommend the sweet corn; I could live on the damn stuff), and a range of chashu pork, karaage chicken, and katsu fried tofu baos replete with all the saucy, nutty, spiciness that we have come to know and love!
757 Ann St, Fortitude Valley
A bar and Asian kitchen after the fashion of an L.A. cocktail lounge, Mr Mista hits you with some serious west coast energy. They bring the same glamour and glitz to a menu that you’d expect, serving up spectacular fusion dishes in discotheque surroundings. By spectacular, I mean these bao will rock your damn world. Chicken karaage with caramelised pineapple? Indeed! Kastu bug bao with lychee and green tartar? Yes, please! Charcoal boa with char siu pork, pickled daikon honey and soy? Crispy oyster mushroom bao with eggplant, a miso glaze, and buffalo mayo that’s twice as good as it sounds? Need I say more?
Oh Boy Bok Choy
264 Stafford Rd, Stafford
These guys sure know what they’re about! A delightful south-east Asian kitchen, Oh Boy Bok Choy specialises in the flavours of Vietnam, China, Malaysia, and Thailand. Best of all, they do Make Your Own bao! All come served with pickled salad, herbs, red onion, sweet chilli jam, peanuts, and sesame—and a choice of crispy mushroom, sticky pork, or tempura prawn! Scrummy!
Paw Paw Cafe
898 Stanley St E, Woolloongabba
A stylishly tropical venue, Paw Paw Cafe offers a seasonal menu paired with an extensive range of specialty coffees, fine wines, and cocktails. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, items of choice include the swordfish bumbu bali, rich massaman beef cheek curry, and the downright smashing sambal lamb ribs. Their bao (only for dinner!) are available with crispy chicken or jackfruit and pickled ginger, crispy lettuce, and our favourite sriracha mayo.
The Bun Mobile
The Bun Mobile is an ever-shifting oasis of savoury delightfulness—a mirage, a wonder, a rolling temple to bao-believers everywhere. They roam around Brisbane, with their locations uploaded online, serving handmade buns of three varieties, plus a daily special. We’re talking twice-cooked pork with hoisin sauce, wagyu beef with pickled shiitake mushrooms and red dragon sauce, or teriyaki chicken with slaw, hoisin and mayo.
And are they just that damn good? Well, they’ve been serving up delicious bao since 2012, were voted best food truck in Brisbane for four years running, and we can’t stop coming back for more, so you tell me!