Like so many other dishes found on the contemporary restaurant scene gua bao, the Taiwanese steamed bun stuffed with meats, vegetables and other condiments, made its way onto restaurant menus via street food vendors and food trucks. In New York, chef Chang has served his iconic pork buns in Momofuko since it opened in 2004, and its fame rose further in 2015, when Bao Bar opened a much-lauded spot in Soho, London.
In Stockholm, bao has been around for a little over a year, with a couple of restaurants specialising in the “Taiwanese hamburger”. One such spot is Barobao, located on Hornsgatan, but with a look and atmosphere that could easily have placed the venue in Berlin. Concrete flooring, plywood walls, plants suspended from the ceiling in macramé hangers and a water tap that protrudes directly from the wall gives a keen sense of quirkiness and creativeness.
The menu is also an artistic one, illustrated in a Asian-inspired manner and divided in sections for gua bao, comfort platters, side dishes and desserts. Since we are here for a full-on bao experience, we decide on a porkbelly bao (56 kronor) and free range chicken bao (56 kronor), as well as sides of quick kimchi (42 kronor), pickled local organic cucumber (38 kronor) and a couple of glasses of beer on tap from Gotland (58 kronor).
Sinking our teeth into the steamed milk and wheat buns, they are just as pillowy-soft as we’d hoped for. In all honesty, the bread itself doesn’t really do much flavourwise, but is of utmost importance for the textural feel. Once you’ve worked your way through the fluffy white coating, there’s an intense flavour explosion generated by the proteins, veggies and dressings. Choosing one bao over the other would be a real shame – go for both. As a side dish, we much prefer the kimchi, a Korean fermented cabbage salad, which is surprisingly fragrant due to the addition of elderflowers. Barobao delivers flavours that truly tantalise our taste buds.
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