Bianca: I’m a little late to the Belly Bao party. I made my first visit back in early 2016 when they were still chugging away in the belly of the Good God Small Club. Their Thursday Baogers were the talk of Sydney. And I decided to visit after having a full meal (burgers no less, prior). Let’s just say prime real estate was occupied and I needed to return on an empty stomach.
Move ahead two years and they now have a permanent home in Newtown. Two visits within a span of a week, I just couldn’t get enough. The menu is far more expansive now, with 4 burgers, 6 bao’s, noodles, fried chicken, sides and desserts (which I’ve yet to save room for).
Originally starting as a market stall selling Gua bao’s, there are now 6 Baos on the menu. The Panko Crumbed Chicken Bao $7.5 was both crispy and moist, the steamed bao soft and fluffy. The two chilli indicators had me worried initially but the heat was minimal. I was most excited to try the Crackling Roast Pork Belly Bao $7.5 despite being the first cabs off the rank, these were eaten last so we could tuck into our baogers. Probably a rookie mistake as the gelatinous pork belly had hardened up somewhat. Texturally fantastic, with the soft bao/pork belly and crackling. Finally tied together by the fresh radish.
I’m ridiculously pedantic about my burgers as we all know and I LOVED Belly Bao’s interesting take. Using Bao’s as the foundation for the burger bun. They handled very well, only the eggplant baoger suffered some ‘structural integrity’ issues. We’ll put it down to the eaters. I’m known to be rather hyperbolic when it comes to my favourite foods i.e “A burger you’d kill for”. So the Chopped Cheese Baoger $13 is up there, maybe not full-blown murder good but like a gentle push into the middle of an upcoming car good. Truly delicious, the bun soft and squishy, I enjoyed the toasted crispy underside adding some crunch. This was basically a McDonald’s cheeseburger on steroids. The ‘chopped’ patty perfectly seasoned and a fun alternative to a traditional beef patty.
The Chicken Baoger $15 is really ALL about that sauce! The chicken crispy and moist, despite the greenery from the cabbage, it was well proportioned and held together well.
Another visit, I couldn’t help myself by ordering the Chicken Baoger $15 and adding a Hash Brown $2. Glorious melted American cheese on a fried chicken burger, it’s kind of a rarity! This was sopping wet which seeped under the bao, besides that – crispy fried chicken and a hash brown? How can you go wrong?
I was surprised by how much I loved the Eggplant Baoger $13. Soft caramelised eggplant with a crispy outer coating. Thin shavings of pickled cucumber and iceberg lettuce provided some freshness and crunch. This was probably the messiest of the bunch, the bao bun struggling to contain all the juicy wet ingredients.
It was a super hot day when I visited with one of my fave gals, so we opted for the Onion Bao Noodles $12 instead of the spicy version. Similar to a char kway teow but made from bao dough. The texture was super bouncy and I loved the sweet caramelised onion notes. Definitely keen to try the spicy version.
I feel I may have made a rookie error with the fried chicken. Going for Two BBC Wings $ 8. Super crispy outer coating and moist, juicy chicken. But everyone raves about the Salted Egg $3 topping. So I’ll definitely be getting that next time.
Fries -w/truffle aioli $5 are a must.
And on a super hot day, the Tofu Papaya Salad $15 was a godsend. I would be a little sneaky next time and add fried chicken. Great juxtaposition of the sweet refreshing papaya with the lightly fried tofu. Texturally interesting.
In short… go now!