Little Bao!

Little Bao 01
Little Bao started off as a little food stand in the Island East Markets – when we went on a freezing cold, wet February evening, we had to wait an hour and a half for a table in this small, 20-seater restaurant, thankfully there are plenty of bars in the vicinity to drink up an appetite!

Executive chef May Chow describes Little Bao as an American diner with a modern Asian twist.  The concept of a bao comes from the Taiwanese gua bao, a little, white steamed bun, traditionally filled with braised pork belly.  Kind of like a Chinese burger.

We started with Short-Rib Pan-Fried Dumpling: slow braised organic OBE beef short rib, celeriac coleslaw.
Little Bao 02
YUM!!  These were amazing.  Definitely not traditional, the dumplings were full of juicy, slow-cooked Australian beef and the celeriac slaw had a strong sesame flavour, which went fantastic with the rich meat.  I still think about these dumplings now!

Followed by LB Fries: roasted tomato sambal, kewpie mayo, cilantro.
Little Bao 04
There was an interesting tasting sweet, sticky substance on the fries which I later found out was mirin caramel made with sweet sake to coat the fries. The perfect salty and sweet combination.  The sambal and kewpie mayonnaise came on the side, a cute little yin-yang swirl.

On the waiter’s recommendation I had a bao from the specials board, the Spicy Fried Chicken Bao, which came with garlic chilli black bean mayo and scallion coleslaw.  I am glad a took the recommendation, this bao was incredible.  The fluffy steamed buns were perfect, punchy flavours, meat moist; full of flavour.  Gav also had a chicken bao to start the bao tasting – he selected the one off the menu which came with a black vinegar glaze, szechuan mayo and napa cabbage coleslaw.

Little Bao 03
We probably should have quit while we still felt comfortable but the *No Bao Cutting* on the menu made us order two more baos; this time  the signature Pork Belly Bao, which comes with leek & shiso red onion salad, sesame dressing and hoisin ketchup.  You really can’t beat slow-braised pork belly, but we really didn’t need anymore food, the rich meat tipping me over the edge!

Little Bao 05
The baos were both delicious, but I think the fried chicken bao was my favourite, a pleasant surprise as I presumed I would prefer the pork belly.  There was definitely no room for a sweet ending!  A deep fried bao served with green tea ice cream and condensed milk – a shame as I have read that they are amazing – next time!

Everything from the clever neon-pink branding, to the service and of course the food was fantastic.  It was worth the wait!

Dinner – Saturday 8 February 2014

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