Recently, I did a roundup of the best gua baos in Sydney, and I put Wonderbao at # 2. Yes, I know they are not based in Sydney. My excuse is that I was first introduced to Wonderbao at the Sydney Noodle Night Markets, and became thoroughly enamored. So much so that when I found myself back in Melbourne after that, I made a beeline for their tiny outlet in the city.
Wonderbao is located down a corridor in a truly non-descript commercial building next to RMIT campus. You know you’re in the right place when you see steamers, a row of large bamboo steamers bellowing tantalising columns of steam.
Aside from gua baos, Wonderbao also serves up siu mai, standard baos with various fillings, and they have started selling dessert baos. When I visit, I only have eyes for their gua baos, – oblong soft, chewy bao wrapped around the most tasty meats.
I adore Wonderbao’s interpretation of gua baos, a Taiwanese street food. There is a fantastic balance of soft, chewy, crunchy, salty, sweet and sour. The crunch and sweet/sour comes from the pickles and also the roasted crumbed peanuts. The gua baos are $4.90 each or $14.50 for a box of 3.
My picks are the traditional braised pork belly gua bao and the fried silky tofu gua bao. The braised pork belly is cooked perfectly, the gelatinous fat is just chewy enough to give some resistance, the meat is tender and tears into moist shreds in your mouth. It is complemented with pickled mustard, coriander and crushed peanuts.
The silky tofu is custardy on the inside and has a crispy coating. Just perfect, and comes with pickled mustard, coriander, sweet soy sauce and crushed peanuts.
We also tried the roast pork belly gua bao which is served with cucumber, pickled carrots & daikon and hoisin sauce. This was also tasty, the roast pork is firmer to the bite and the pickled carrot was a perfect foil to the fatty meat.
We ordered one of their soft shell crab gua bao which came with pickled cucumber, scallion slaw, chili and Dijon mustard. The soft shell crab was crunchy, chewy with crabby goodness. The size of the gua baos are generous, two would make a good lunch for me. If you want some heat, there is siracha available on the counters. If you are thirsty, Wonderbao serves up fresh organic soymilk, available hot or cold.
Wonderbao also serves their wonderful baos at festivals and events around Melbourne and further afield. But, if you’re in Melbourne, I recommend you make a beeline for their tiny eatery and have a full-on bao experience.
Shop 4/19-37 A’Beckett Street (or Literature Lane, off Little Bourke St)
Ph: 03-9654 7887
Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm
Sat 11am – 4pm