My mouth is watering as I simply type the words Belly Bao. Belly Bao specialises in Gua Bao- a popular Taiwanese street food. Traditionally, a Gua Bao (pronounced gwa bow) is a steamed white bread bun containing sweet pork, pickled mustard greens, peanut powder and coriander. The shape of the bun depicts striking similarities to that of a clam shell.
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to visit Paddington Markets and taste the incredible Gua Bao, made by the team at Belly Bao. Upon my first impression, I realised there is more to ‘Belly Bao’ than their perfectly portioned ‘buns’. Sylvia Tran, the food-obsessed master behind Belly Bao, prides herself on their point of difference ” the love and care we put into our buns- which we believe is at least 50% of the equation of a perfect Gua Bao“, says Sylvia. Even better, the creation of Belly Bao’s Taiwanese buns is a family affair, with Sylvia paying credit to her partner KC, her cousin D and her Pa-the chef, whom inspired and drove her passion for food.
Belly Bao’s version of the pork bun is absolutely delicious; there are no other words to describe it other than saying a big YUM. Belly Bao makes each Gua Bao themselves, 100% handcrafted with Australian wheat flour- resulting in a pillowy soft bun, oozing with flavour from the fillings.
Belly Bao follows the traditional menu with the braised pork belly; stuffed into steamed buns with crushed peanuts, pickled greens and coriander. However, they maintain a modern Asian twist, incorporating fillings of fresh radish and crackling to give it a kick. Yes, I did just say crackling, and if your Christmas meal is anything like mine, I know the addition of this ingredient will make you as delighted as me.
If pork isn’t your thing, there are two other equally appetising buns.
The panko crumbed chicken breast with shredded iceberg lettuce, pickled red daikon, coriander, special black sauce and either chilli aioli or coriander pesto aioli. The chicken crumb is nice and crispy without making the breast dry and the chilli aioli balances the flavours perfectly leaving a delightfully subtle garlic flavour on your palate.
Also featuring on the menu is the crispy tofu bun with cucumber and toasted sesame salad, crushed peanuts, crunchy fried onions, coriander, pickled chilli and sticky sweet sauce. I am generally on the fence about tofu but I could easily have had ten of Belly Bao’s Crisy Tofu buns. The fried onions give it that extra pungent of flavour, accompanied perfectly with a blend of chilli and sticky sweet sauce.
Sylvia’s mission was to set out and create a Gua Bao so good, that after the first bite the words uttered out of your mouth are F@$K Yeah! In my opinion, they have nailed it, I definitely muttered/thought something along those line.
You can find Belly Bao
every second Saturday at Paddington Markets, located in the food court. They’ll be there this Saturday (28th June) from 10:00am. *updated on 7th January 2015* at Good God Small Club 53-55 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW (02) 8084 0587. For more information, go to bellybao.com or for their trading hours, go to goodgodgoodgod.com/eat