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The Bao Place

I have been to The Bao Place many years ago, when they first opened across from Metrotown Mall, and sadly I didn’t think much or enough to return for more. However, I was in the area now and was hungry, so decided to give them a second try today.

They are a small walk in shop, the buns are premade and kept warm in a steamer. Each bun uses the same white chewy dough, but is filled with a variety of meats and vegetables.

Narrowing down your choice to just 6, to have it all fit in one box was challenging. They offer 11 different types of buns, including a vegetarian option and 3 sweet varieties. Each marked with a colour or symbol to differentiate them.

The bun with no markings is the Pork Deluxe. I couldn’t help compare it to my favourite deluxe steamed bun from another Asian bakery, and this one just fell short by comparison. Although the ingredient listing for both are completely different. The menu listed the filling as pork, jimaca, green onion, shallot, egg, and luncheon meat. I didn’t get anything outside of the pork and egg. No crunch from the jimaca, no fragrance from the green onion, and no salty flavour of luncheon meat. If the latter was in play and prevalent, this review would have gone in a different direction. The overall flavour of this was flat, the egg had no seasoning and was over boiled, with that grey ring around its pale yellow yolk. This left me wanting a sauce or gravy to dip it into for flavour, or at least just salt.

The Curry Beef Dynamite bun didn’t need a dot or symbol, as its sauce seeped though and stained the white dough a neon orange. The menu listed onion and potato as additional ingredients, however I didn’t find any of the latter. And had I, I probably would have liked the bun for how substantial it left me. Much like my review of the above, I wanted more punchy flavours from my meat. I was disappointed after comparing this to the sweet curry filling of my favourite baked Chinese bun. The sweetness here overwhelmed the would be heat and spice of a nice yellow curry.

The bun with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds was pork with preserved vegetables, shallot, and green onion. Yet another meat bun that I wished was more thoroughly seasoned. More salt or pepper, something saucier as it was a little dry. At this point I am convinced that there is a dip of some sort that I didn’t know I need to ask for. Nor did the staff suggest as an easy add-on.

The buns dotted with a red spot is a Spicy Chicken with shallots and chilli flakes. This one was the most flavourful bun of the lot, but it still fell short to my palate. And the ratio of filling to bun had the largest discrepancy.

The yellow dot buns were “Belly Belly Pork” with sliced pork belly and green onions. Here I finally got the sauce I had been missing and enough of it to balance out some of the excess dough. Not surprising, this bun had a fattier mouthfeel to it.

And I saved what I thought would be the best for last, the BBQ pork bun that was the only one to have its dough folded with pork, onion, and their house barbecue sauce. But once again it didn’t deliver to my expectations and what I know BBQ pork to taste like.

Sadly I think I went into this wrong. I was looking for Chinese style steamed buns, and focused on what I knew and wanted, instead of enjoying them for what they are. Although at the same token, I know that I prefer Chinese style steamed buns and will most likely stray away from these. Not for me, as I have already identified my favourites.

The Bao Place
4673 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2B3
(778) 712-3228

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