Phone: (03) 9654 7887
We've been lucky enough to have Wonderbao with us for a couple of years now. I've been visiting whenever I have a bao craving. Some of you may ask, what is a 'bao'? It's the Chinese word for bun and it refers to the white steamed buns you find in restaurants and street vendors in China, Hong Kong and many other parts of Asia. These buns can be plain or filled with some delicious sweet or savoury filling. They can also come flat, like taco shells, to be served with slices of meat and vegetables. These are known as Gua Baos and are quite popular in Taiwan as street food.
Since opening in 2012, Wonderbao has made the Gua Bao popular in Melbourne, serving three regular combinations, as well as some unique versions for events as such as the Night Noodle Market. With a craving for some baos the other day, I ventured in for a late lunch and ordered one of each of the different flavours.
In general, my favourite is the Roast Pork Belly Gua Bao. The bun is very soft and sweet plum sauce and pickled carrots are used to flavour the slice of pork belly, providing a zest that offsets the richness of the meat. The pork belly is soft and tender with a good balance of fat and meat.
This goes for the pork in the Braised Pork Belly Gua Bao as well. The Braised Pork is the traditional flavour that you'd find if you were to visit a Taiwanese night market. I'd say that Wonderbao has been pretty faithful to the street snack, serving it with the exact same pickles and crushed peanuts. I'm not a fan of pickles in general but the coriander and peanuts make the bun agreeable.
The Fried Silky Tofu Gua Bao has a thick slice of fried tofu, which I like a lot. But the pickles are quite strong, so I have to pick them out whenever I buy this one.
On my last visit, I also ordered a warm soy milk so I could stay to read my book as it was too sunny to read outside. When I finished hanging around, I ordered another, more traditional bun as a dessert - a Nai Wong Bao, or in English, an egg custard bun. Wonderbao make really nice egg custard buns. The custard is thick and slightly more creamier than the other egg custards you get when you buy Nai Wong Baos. The buns are also fluffy and not at all dry like the ones you have to defrost yourself.
I think I mentioned ordering a soy milk before? That's right, you can get warm or cold soy milk at Wonderbao. The warm soy milk comes in a cute Wonderbao cup. Or, if you're not a fan of Asian soy milk, they also have a bunch of other drinks (from Asian Grocery stores) on sale. I had to laugh when I saw that they'd called them F.O.B drinks!
Wonderbao a nice space to sit and eat lunch or to grab take away from. I've had various degrees of friendliness from smiling and conversational staff to nonchalent-hipster types serving me...but the service is always quick and efficient. The store itself is pretty cute and a good place for a quick catch-up with friends. But it's very busy with university students around lunch time due to its affordable prices and convenient location...I'd wait till after 2 o'clock if you want to hang around in the space. But do I recommend Wonderbao? Hells yeah.
Worth Visiting? Cheap, quick, tasty, filling...What's not to like?