Baos have made a comeback in the past few years, especially as the fare of trendy modern Asian restaurants.
But nothing can really beat the good old school bao — you know, the plump ones with pillowy dough and steaming centres of barbequed meat or bean paste that you eagerly bite into despite knowing they haven’t cooled down yet. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
However, with the F&B industry in immense flux right now it’s crucial to keep on supporting your favourite hawker stalls. We recommend heading out to grab as many baos as your heart desires while adhering to social distancing and good hygiene practices and enjoying them from the comfort of your home.
Here are the bao stalls to visit for handmade morsels of joy.
Tanjong Rhu Pau & Confectionery boasts a cult following, thanks to its selection of handmade mini baos. Popular options span pork, char siew, red bean paste, and lotus paste, and we guarantee you’ll have more than one. What keeps customers coming back for more are the moist, fluffy exteriors and generous fillings. There are also larger ones on sale for those looking for a more substantial snack.
The historic store has come a long way since its founding in 1969, now spanning over seven stores across the country. Highlights include the juicy char siew bao, creamy leng yong (lotus seed paste) bao, and hearty tau sar (red bean paste) bao. Make a feast out of your visit and pick up other dim sum offerings such as egg tarts, siew mai, and lo mai gai.
Nam Kee Pau prides itself in following the traditional recipes of the famous, eponymous stall in Johor Bahru. Expect handmade baos bursting with classic fillings such as pork and egg, char siew, and red bean paste. The chain also boasts over twenty stores across the island — making it incredibly easy to get your fill.
Yeoh Eu Tie founded Teochew Handmade Pau in 1990 and has been hand kneading soft-skinned baos labouriously ever since. Must-tries include the succulent kong bak (braised pork) bao, flavourful char siu bao, and hearty longevity bun. The stall was also awarded the Michelin Plate in 2018, testifying the steamed buns’ high quality and sheer skill required to make them.
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Hidden away in ABC Brickworks Market, Bao Zai offers baos that are handmade daily. Don’t miss the char siu bao as it features pork barbecued over a traditional charcoal oven — a nod to the owner’s previous career as a roast meat hawker. Equally delectable is the big bao that’s packed to the brim with mixed meat filling. The stall’s been around for over thirty years, so you definitely know you won’t be disappointed.
The stall offers baos and dim sum items that are handmade daily. It’s most known for its da (big) bao, which is stuffed with fragrant chunks of pork, chicken, mushroom, and egg. Be sure to pick up classic bites such as siu mai and lo mai gai while you’re here.