Tucked away in Melbourne’s abstract ‘Literature Lane’, sits Wonderbao, boasting Melbourne’s newly acquired cuisine trend – the Bao; a traditional Chinese steamed bun, complete with your choice of luscious filling. Contrary to expectations deriving from fellow reviewers, Wonderbao on this particularly gloomy day introduced a relaxed atmosphere; with just enough customers to take advantage of the in-house seating. The menu is short and simple, you’ll be sure to find something that tickles your taste buds! Whilst the prices are very reasonable, considering everything is under $4; you get value for money taking into account how filling these little buns are!
Da Pork Bao – $3.20
Egg, Shiitake Mushroom & Chinese Sausage
First off we started with the Da Pork Bao which consisted of a good portion of Chinese sausage, egg and shiitake mushrooms. When we broke apart the bun, it didn’t look appetising at the slightest. Biting into it, we could definitely tell that these buns were freshly made. They had a lovely fluffy, doughy texture which was quite sweet, an interesting flavour we’d never experienced before. Nonetheless; this particular Bao was enjoyable; however, if you’re expecting a sweet chinese sausage, these are almost gourmet in flavour.
Cheung Chay Bao – $2
Chinese Sausage Bao
Next up was the Cheung Chay Bao, a chinese sausage wrapped in a cosy warm bun; rather cute! This small bao was an adequate representation of the chinese sausage, sweet and cost effective – however, in comparison to other options; was relatively plain and lacked that wow factor. Worth the small price; just don’t expect anything special.
Char Siu Bao – $2
Breaking into this bao filled with BBQ pork, revealed an inadequate usage of filling – whilst the flavour was excellent, a smooth, creamy texture, with a sweet taste – there simply wasn’t enough filling to create an even taste throughout. It had a well balanced use of spices, which complimented the pork and sauce. Definitely one of our favourites of the five we tasted, and excellent value for money!
Gua Bao – $3.80
Braised Pork Belly, Pickled Mustard, Coriander & Crushed Peanuts
This gua bao, which is served open, sandwiched between the bun, offers a generous amount of filling consisting of braised pork belly in a sticky, sweet sauce, pickled mustard which gave the bao that tangy, salty element, topped with crushed peanuts for crunch. It was quite messy to eat; and whilst there were some interesting flavours – it seemed as if there were too much going on; and they didn’t blend well. The pork was extremely tender, definitely the highlight of this bao and broke apart (literally) in our mouths!
Homemade Organic Soya Milk – $2.80
Served Hot or Cold
A critical look around the small premises, revealed virtually every customer happily sipping away at white coloured beverage. Keen to try what seemed like another interesting aspect of Wonderbao, we ordered the hot organic soya milk. Perhaps it was just our palette as we never drink soya milk and we’re not use to it, but this was horrible. It had what could be described as a woody, milky taste with a thick, smooth texture. Stay away if you aren’t use to drinking this – opt for the FOB drink menu (yes, fresh of the boat!)
Nai Wong Bao – $1.70
To finish off for dessert, we indulged in the Nai Wong Bao; a typical chinese dessert bun willed with egg custard. There was plenty of filling (in comparison to what we’ve had in the past), which was smooth and sweet and had a deep yellow colour.
Food: 6.5/10 (according to our acquired taste palette – nothing wrong with what was provided, take note that they are quite sweet – some bao’s could have had more filling)
Value for money: 8/10
Total Cost: $15.50
Pros: Cheap, unusual, a taste of traditional Chinese cuisine
Cons: You will need a selective taste palette, limited seating (don’t expect to dine in)
Would we return? Perhaps for a cheap snack otherwise; no.
Phone: 03 9654 7887
Mon – Fri: 8am – 6pm
Sat: 11am – 4pm
Payment: Cash Only
Address: Shop 4/19 -37 A’Beckett St
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3000
*To get to Wonderbao, go down Little Latrobe street, turn into Literature Lane and you will find it straight ahead.