Baozi, bau, humbau or whatever other name it is called in different parts of China and Asia, to us Mumbaikars, it is simple baos. This Chinese origin steam bun with a stuffing of your choice has become incredibly trendy and, in some cases, a craze. 2015 was witness to the rise of the bao and, all over the city, diners wanted the perfect bun filled with meats and veggies. Every Asian restaurant had baos on the menu and even the mixed cuisine ones paid homage to this current craze. Some failed miserably (we will not get into that) but some succeeded and lived to tell the tale. Here is our pick of the top five places that we think deserve a bow (no pun intended).
The Bao Haus Co. – It takes a certain amount of confidence to have your entire menu feature just one dish but for the team behind The Bao Haus Co., the gamble paid off. Though they are not a full-fledged restaurant, this delivery model business has become so popular that they have expanded their menu to include some very interesting bao variations, burgers and sides. Buttermilk fried chicken bao, quinoa bao, or chocolate baos anyone?
The Fatty Bao – Asian Gastro Bar – This Bangalore based restaurant has been exciting diners with their Asian fare for a while now. It is such a popular spot that you almost always need a reservation or you might have to wait a long while till you can devour their food. Restaurants always have signature dishes, but when the dish features in the name of the restaurant, you know it is going to be a great dish! They are known for their baos and most people will rank these as their favourite.
145 Kala Ghoda – This trendy bar and restaurant has revamped itself and its menu now includes dishes that are popular and the best in comfort food. Thai curries, nasi gorengs, sali boti with berry pulao and a bunch of other popular dishes, including Indian small plates, are what you will find here. They also have their own take on baos and, along with a classic teriyaki chicken bao, the really interesting ones are their raan bao and butter chicken bao.
Café Nemo – Much before popular joints such as The Fatty Bao or The Bao Haus Co., this Worli eatery dedicated a section of its menu to baos and they have been a popular bunch of items ever since. You can find interesting choices such as tofu popcorn, geef bulgogi, wok-tossed wheat protein and even a char siu pork bao.
Lemon Leaf – While they are known for their Thai and Chinese dishes, along with a bit of sushi and sashimi on the menu, what a lot of diners miss on their menu is their simple but delicious selection of baos. The fish and chips with gochujang or the fried shrimp with tom yum sauce are great options (despite not being very traditional choices) when it comes to baos.
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Better known as the Tiny Taster, Roxanne is an internationally respected blogger and expert on the Mumbai food scene. She has hosted many events, including the Upper Crust Food & Wine Show and travels the world, sharing her knowledge and gaining more experience.