Bao Battle – Hobart’s best

Soft, pillow like rolls filled with exquisite savoury ingredients, these are some of my favourite things and they’re popping up all over Hobart. The battle of the bao has been brewing for some time and now to decide whose cuisine reigns supreme!

Ja & Jon

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BBQ Chicken; Roast Pork $6.50 each

Their banh mi are mighty fine so I was excited to try some bao when it was recently introduced to the menu.  The protein is the same as in their rolls and comes served with salad, herbs, and crushed peanuts, it is generous and delicious. I preferred the chicken but many would love the crispy pork. The other ingredients tasted very fresh, an optional hit of chilli was spot on, and the value was certainly appreciated. A good recommendation for lunch but nothing ground-breaking here. 7.5/10
Ja & Jon 33 Elizabeth Street

The Den

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Pulled Sticky Duck with Hoisin Glaze and Sesame; Roasted Pork Belly with Kimchi, Miso, and Crispy Shallots 2 for $18

The Den had a few very exciting sounding bao on their menu, but would they translate well to the plate? The answer is yes. The pork had some really good kimchi and bbq, the tenderest belly, and lettuce for crunch. Bold and strong with a hit of chilli. The duck was much more refined, soft gentle flavours that worked well in unison. They were both very different and excellent examples of the craft. I was lucky to pop along during a lunch special where they were exceptional value at $5 each but you’ll find them nearly twice that price otherwise. 8.5/10
The Den 63 Salamanca Place

Mr Good Guy

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Crispy Pork Belly with Hoisin, Cucumber, and Pork Floss $8

The bao are a bit different here being presented more as a bar snack or a bite to enjoy before your meal. It’s a noticeably smaller bun than found elsewhere but the fillings really featured as a result. Tender and fatty pork belly matched well with the sweetness of the hoisin and pork floss added crunch. It was a wonderful and fresh tasting bite, alas over far too soon. 8/10
Mr Good Guy 173 Macquarie Street

Abel Land

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Taiwanese Fried Chicken, Japanese Mayo, Tomato, Cheese, Carrot, Lettuce $12.50

Now this was a monster in size! It featured a large piece of Taiwanese style fried chicken that was indeed impressive. The quality and choice of the other ingredients let it down though and ended up tasting more akin to a chicken burger from a corner store. Perhaps I picked the wrong one to try? 6/10
Abel Land 48a Murray Street

Bun Bar

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Braised Pork, Coriander, Spring Onion, Ground Peanuts $6.50

The space once hosted my favourite takeaway, Little Salama, and I’d been meaning to pop in for a while. Perhaps the building is blessed by some culinary gods because this was a truly wonderful find. The bun was overflowing with the tastiest pulled pork that had been braised in aromatic Chinese stock with a sticky sauce, big flavours here with the freshness of the herbs and salad contributing nicely. Great value as well and a very close second place. 9/10
Bun Bar 82a Harrington Street

Seoul Street

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Korean Fried Chicken in a Handmade Bun $12

I’ve raved about Seoul Street before and they continue to go from strength to strength while obviously loving what they do. This bao was a glorious combination of crispy fried chicken, fresh salads, kimchi, herbs, and Korean chilli sauce all encased in the softest bun. It was truly a delight, a lot of talent and passion has gone into this dish, and they take out the prize for best in Hobart. Downside is that they are only found on the weekends. 9.1/10
Seoul Street @ Salamanca Market, Farmgate Market, and others

Do let us know if we missed any of note!
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