Soft pillows of heaven-Say Kia ora to the legendary bao bun. Find us someone who these babies wouldn’t please and we’ll be sure to change their mind with a night out in Auckland. With lashings of hoisin sauce, and fillings ranging from pork belly to fried chicken, or even a cinnamon-sugar dessert bao (yes, that does exist) the humble yet punchy bao bun never fails to disappoint. Whether you’re craving a little snack to go with a night of cocktails, or you’re ready to seriously chow down, we present to you the best places to satisfy those bao cravings.
(Image Source: Tucks & Bao)
Tucks & Bao
Finally a dessert bao! But wait, we’ll get to that soon... Tucks and Bao is your cheap and cheerful, street-food inspired Asian fusion eatery. They have two Auckland sites, one on Davis Crescent, Newmarket and one on Hurstmere Road, Takapuna. When it comes to variety; pork, shrimp, beef, chicken, tofu–You name it, they’ve got it. If trying to go easy on the carbs, or are just wanting to save room for dessert, they can do a ‘naked’ bao where the bun is swapped out for lettuce. Speaking of dessert, how great does their Bao Nut sound? A sugar and cinnamon fried bao bun complete with ice cream and caramel sauce, yes please!
The Blue Breeze Inn
Ponsonby is great for two things: Partying on a Saturday night and The Blue Breeze Inn. As their slogan goes, “Welcome to modern Chinese with an island breeze”. Regardless of whether you’re here for lunch or dinner, their pork belly bao buns are the number one go-to on their menu. So simple, yet so delicious. Tender pork belly, hoisin sauce, sliced cucumber, and coriander all nestled in a fluffy steamed bao bun really hits the spot. They’re best washed down with a tropical tiki cocktail, served in a take-home tiki cup. Watch out, these are delicious yet deadly. As for the baos, order one for each hand, these are something you definitely won’t want to share.
Happy Boy Eatery
Technically these are Baogers (burger baos) however, they still use the light and dreamy steamed bao buns, so we’re including them on the list. Get a taste of the classic American beef ‘n cheese baoger, or try their delectable crispy sriracha free-range chicken number. These are a more filling option than your classic bao bun, but don’t let this stop you loading up on the sides as well. We recommend the kimchi loaded shoestring fries and the spicy tofu and eggplant. The atmosphere of Happy Boy is part 1980’s Asian arcade and part American intergalactic diner. Intrigued? Visit their website to get a feel of the Happy Boy vibe.
Chinoiserie is your go-to suburban Asian fusion restaurant. The decor is shabby-chic, the staff are casual-cool, and the food is absolutely delicious. Their gua bao selection ranges from the classic pork belly and coriander to a more exotic coconut-crusted squid with chilli mayo (our top pick!). Their menu isn’t huge, but they do have options for every taste and dietary requirement. The service is speedy and the dishes are affordable, just the way we like it.
Bao Baby Bao
Bao Baby Bao is an American-Chinese fusion restaurant at the heart of Auckland’s CBD. This mouthwatering establishment is self-proclaimed, “traditional but bold and comforting but dangerous”. With a tagline like that, how can you not want to explore their menu? They offer five different flavours of bao, our pick is the Philly Cheese Steak. This succulent steamed bun is filled with shaved wagyu beef, crispy onions, cheese sauce, black bean mayo and shredded cabbage. A perfect combination of oriental flare mixed with all-American flavour. If your sweet tooth rears its persistent head at the end of the meal, we highly recommend the Monkey Business; banana, walnut and salted caramel dessert spring rolls.