A visit to the small take-away outlet down A’Beckett lane left me in two very interesting states. First and foremost admiring the deliciousness of all the bao we just sampled and secondly, wondering why the hell these guys are not open at night or on the weekend. These two senses of wonder will surely be felt after you visit Melbourne’s new hot-spot Wonderbao.
This place caters perfectly for the corporate and RMIT uni-types that roam Melbourne’s city for the best grub going around. Wonderbao offers a cheap, quick and delicious snack on the go. Take note of what the space looks like, with limited signage (just as the Melbournians like it) and a camouflaged black finish you can easily miss.
Seating space is very limited – 5 stools to be precise. So don’t come here expecting to have a proper sit-down breakfast or lunch experience. Take-away is my best advice or gently perch yourself outside on a milk crate and catch some vitamin D while chomming down your bao. Just be careful not to spill the Siracha down your top – like I did.
Two of us dined and we ordered a grand total of 6 buns to share. After some complex mathematics, this resulted in 3 per person – this would be the Chommery Approved (CA) suggestion of ordering.
To begin with bao festivities, we had the classic Char siu bao – BBQ pork bun ($2.00). The famous bun that we all have grown to love so much over our eating years. Wonder’s version was great – a thin but substantial layer of juicy, sweet chunks of pork wrapped in regular soft encasing. A good start to the chom.
While not visually appealing ‘da pork’ bao was an interesting choice. This was an absolutely enormous bun filled with shitake mushroom, egg and Chinese sausage ($3.20). The size and weight of this bun was truly special but it was far from my favourite of the day.
I am certain you will agree that the next three baos look too good to eat. Each one a piece of artwork with it’s distinct finishing touches. The braised pork belly gua bao with pickled mustard, coriander and crushed peanuts ($3.80) was divine. A generously thick, fatty layer of pork belly stole the show, doused exquisitely with the peanuts to create a truly special bao.
Could I be as bold to say that I preferred the roast pork belly gua bao with cucumber, pickled carrots, daikon and hoisin sauce ($3.80) to the braised? I think I like the consistency of the roast pig slightly more, combined with the fact that the meat and the fat blend in more easily with this method. Extra points given for the use of the vegetables – this must be heart foundation approved. A must order bao!
The fried silky tofu gua bao ($3.80) won the gold medal for me on this occasion. Hands down, this was the best bao and believe it or not, it was vegetarian! The gentle piece of tofu was lightly fried, then surrounded by pickled mustard, coriander, crushed peanuts and sweet soy and finally encased in the soft bun. This is a brilliant food dish and is a tribute to the bao lords.
The nai wong bao filed with egg custard ($1.70). How could this chom end on any different note than with a custard filled treat? The nai wong was also huge and split perfectly to share with your amigo.
And there you have it – I have done it again – waffled along way longer than necessary to convey my contention for today’s piece. I will re-enforce it now in case you haven’t yet been able to decipher it – if the above photos appeal to you – get your ass to Wonderbao!
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Asian / Chinese / Buns
Suitable for: Cheap-eat fans
Price: $10 per head
My View: Beautifal Bao!
Address: Shop 4/19-37 A’Beckett St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 7887