This is not your usual dim sum establishment. Neither is it your regular burger joint. Aptly located on HongKong Street, Bao Boy is a restaurant-bar focusing on steamed buns stuffed with Asian flavours with a twist. Case in point, the fried chicken and cheese bao ($14), buttermilk-soaked chicken thigh topped with shredded cabbage with a touch of yuzu kosho as well as the pulled pork banh mi bao ($14) stacked with Iberico pork jowl, liver pate and a squeeze of sriracha. It’s not just steamed buns on the menu. Share a plate of chilli crab mac and cheese ($16) or salmon tartare nachos ($12) or pop open a bottle of natural wine (from $16 a glass/$70 a bottle) from its extensive certified-organic selection.
Original review by Fabian Loo on October 16 2019
We arrive at Bao Boy – opened by Andrew Walsh of Cure and Butcher Boy fame – a little late on a Friday evening. We’re told told that there are no available seats – understandable, given that the 30-seater eatery opened to much fanfare in the hip Clarke Quay area. But in a busy frenzy, the waitstaff didn’t offer an alternative time to come back. They’re probably hoping you don’t.
But we did, two hours later, and sit at the bar counter (the alternative was al fresco) where the kitchen is in full display. We start with the recommended beef rendang fries ($14) where the spicy minced beef sauce buries a handful of seasoned fries. The combination works, but it isn’t anything special. The same can be said for the chicken and prawn dumplings ($14) with homemade teriyaki sauce.
The baos, fortunately, fare better. Those familiar with Butcher Boy will recognise the famous fried chicken and cheese bao ($14) – it’s a crowd favourite here as well. The steamed buns are soft yet sturdy enough to hold its own against the chunky chicken, while the spritely yuzu kosho sauce helps cut through the grease. The banh mi-inspired pulled pork bao ($14) is also enjoyable, with tender shreds of meat topped with Sriracha and liver parfait.
Consider yourself warned: eating here can be a messy affair. Do away with table manners and indulge with bare hands.
Dessert is a straightforward affair with just one choice: fried peanut butter and jelly bao ($8). Crispy buns, similar to those you dip in chilli crab sauce, come served with a peanut butter parfait and raspberry jam. It’s a safe pairing that works, but the semi-frozen custard lacks the icy chill needed to contrast the warm and toasty fried buns.
As it seems, Bao Boy follows an almost predictable East-meets-West formula. And it works, for now. But there’s much potential for this little boy to grow and fit into the same big-boy pants as its siblings.
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