Best Baos in Christchurch
You may not have heard of bao buns before, but we can guarantee you’ll quickly become addicted from the first bite.
Words by: Lucy Gordon & Isabella Nicholson
Photography by: Neat Places
Bao buns are a popular Asian dish made from sweetened open-face buns, stuffed full with various meats and tasty fillings bursting with flavour. They’re small in size, but they pack a punch, making them the perfect accompaniment to any dish. Made from a traditional Asian-style sweetened dough, bao is best served warm, soft and tasty, and our favourite spots serving the dish deliver just that.
Fridays at Cathedral Square, and various locations during the week
With an ever-changing menu, there’s always plenty of variety at the Vagabond Chefs food truck, serving up delicious, seasonal cuisine. While the flavours might change, the consistency of producing top quality takeaway food remains high, and their bao buns are no different. Currently, there are three very tempting choices; Korean fried chicken with bulldog sauce, grilled pork belly with char siu sauce and crispy tofu with a peanut sauce. Each bao is also served with a variety of vegetables and herbs, rounding off the tasty flavours. Perfect for a Friday night fend for yourself! Follow @vagabondchefs for daily location updates.
Photo credit: Vagabond Chefs
The Little High Eatery, 181 High Street, Christchurch
Nestled in the centre of The Little High Eatery, Eightgrains offers a choice of five bao buns; pork belly, sweet and spicy fried chicken, BBQ pork, tempura vegetable and a sweet fried bao. The braised pork belly is as authentic as you can get, braised the traditional Taiwanese way for 3-hours by a Taiwanese chef; served up with pickled veggies. The fried chicken bao is made using Sushi Soldier's famous Japanese fried chicken, and comes with Korean sweet and spicy Gochujang, a traditional sauce that tastes similar to sriracha. All baos are equally delicious, packing a whole lot of flavour in one dish - making the decision oh-so hard. Eightgrains also caters for after-savory sweet lovers, as there is a dessert bao made for you too!
Pot Sticker Dumplings
144 Lichfield St, CBD, Christchurch
They might be better known for their dumplings, but don’t underestimate the equally good bao buns at Pot Sticker. Lichfield Street HQ has many different varieties of the popular dish, each one different from the next. The bao dough is made fresh onsite every day, and you can’t go wrong with any option. Choose from pork belly, Beijing duck or fried tofu all served with an addictive sticky Hoisin sauce. If spice is what you’re after, don’t go past the fried chicken with spicy Sriracha mayo. The best part? You can treat yourself to a bao for dessert also, with the melt-in-your-mouth Whittakers dark chocolate bao.
The Phillipines Bakery
475A Papanui Road, Papanui, Christchurch
Short on time and after an afternoon pick-me-up? Be sure to swing into The Philippines Bakery on hustling and bustling Papanui Road. With three no frills flavours, the popular pork Asado bao is followed closely by the tasty Bola-Bola (pork meatball, salted egg and spring onion) and chicken Asado bao. The filling is jam packed into a soft, cloud-like bao (not to mention the generous amount of bun) for one handed on-the-go gobbling. No surprises and no spillages, hits the spot for just a good ol’ steamed bun.
101/96 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch
Whether you’re a family of three, have a lunchtime business meeting or are looking to escape the four walls of home, Midnight Shanghai is the place to be. The bao menu features four uniquely moorish flavours, each with a hero ingredient, lettuce and in-house sauce to accompany. The bao buns are bouncy and light, with a hint of salt to round off the textures. The newest addition to the menu, pork belly charsiu with pickled Chinese cabbage, is a must try. While, the iconic Shanghai maple sriracha chicken bao and roast duck bao are equally loved. A hit of chilli brings the tempura cauliflower to life, for a vegetarian bao with a difference.
283 Lincoln Road, Addington, Christchurch
For an authentic Chinese experience, head to Maxine’s Palace to try their lunchtime Dim Sum menu, featuring a selection of savoury and sweet steamed buns. Maxine’s is bustling right from the moment the open sign lights up at 11am, with a steady stream of people walking through the door. Start your meal with green tea to accompany your choice of Dim Sum. Be sure to try their ever-popular Steamed BBQ Buns or gooey Custard Buns. All buns are perfectly formed, traditionally steamed and served directly in the bamboo steamer.
Evil Genius Bar & Eatery
unit 2/1091 Ferry Road, Ferrymead, Christchurch
One look at the Evil Genius menu and you’ll notice the creative names, which are no short of genius. From Chairman bao buns (spicy pork belly) to Bok Bok bao buns (Evil’s signature free range fried chicken) you're sure to have a giggle. Vegans will rejoice at the sight of the Baolin Kung Fu baos—marinated tofu with vegan mayo. While meat-lovers, mustn’t miss the Baodang (sticky beef) baos with chilli mayo. All baos include greens and pickles, except for the chicken which is served with chimichurri and slaw. There’s no denying that Evil Genius’ baos are dangerously good and all nestled within a seriously cool setting.
3/112 Oxford Terrace, CBD, Christchurch
You’ll be spoilt for choice at Ramen Ria, with four tantalising flavours on offer. A star on the menu is the roasted duck bao. Tender and paired with a sweet plum sauce, this is perfect for first-time duck triers and duck aficionados alike. The crispy roasted pork belly is just that, crispy. With the ideal amount of crackling and an orange hoisin sauce to lighten the palette, this staff recommendation is sure to win you over. A zingy hit of ginger accompanies the tempura vegetable bao and the Karaage fried chicken is paired with a sweet and spicy sauce. All baos come with a good amount of lettuce, and you can also ‘pimp your bao’ by adding avocado or fries on the side.
5 Norwich Quay, Lyttelton
SUPER is home to a selection of Asian-fusion style dishes, including a range of delicious bao buns made using local and in-season ingredients—the signature SUPER way. Currently on the menu, you’ll find four options including Karaage chicken and Hangi pork belly. The tempura veggie bao with vegan miso mayo, teriyaki, pickled onion and coriander is a must try. If you’re craving something unique, opt for Ika (local fish) with puha dandelion salsa verde, Japanese tartar, ginger and greens. One word: super.
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