Friday, September 17, 2010

Bao Today and Black Sesame Bun

Small but cosy outlet, just a little hot
In recent years, there has been a deluge of Hong Kong cafes sprouting all over this island.

Some are very familiar names like Xin Wang and Central, and most of these will harbor ginormous menus covering everything from instant noodles with luncheon meat to frog leg congee to dim sum and yuan yang tea/coffee.

Most of these are alright if you want a quick bite, but rarely do any of these elevate themselves to be remembered for its great taste or genuine innovation. Until now.

Since 313 opened, I have always noticed that at its edge, almost at the junction to Mandarin hotel, is an open air, alfresco styled dim sum cum HK cafe flavored outlet called Bao Today.

The name itself is quite cheeky, as in Chinese, it's a play on the name of the legendary Justice Bao. And guess what is its specialty? Well, buns of course. And it's signature dish ... Black Sesame Bun!

But before we get to that highlight, I would like to wax some lyrical on some of its other menu items as well, as they are really quite good and deserves a shout on its own. Oh, and the menu is much truncated from its HK cafe counterparts too.

Ha Gao or Shrimp Dumplings

We ordered the Bao Special Shrimp Dumplings, and boy were they fresh! Pauline had initially thought these would be processed type of dim sum, and they certainly were not.

The skin was thin and nicely translucent and the fillings were generous to the point of being overzealous! And the prawns were meaty and nicely seasoned and even had a nice crunch to it when you bite into it. This is as good, if not, better than most restaurant's ha gao.

Fried Beancurd Skin or Fu Pei Kun

Pauline always like Fu Pei Kun, which is Fried Beancurd Skin wrapped around shrimp filling. Most times, I detest this dim sum as the skin are usually soggy and over salty and the filling boringly bland.

Bao Today's version was excellent, crispy skinned and as again, a very delectable shrimp filling. Generously large too.

Chee Cheong Fun or Rice Roll with BBQ Pork

The Chee Cheong Fun (or Rice Roll with Char Siew BBQ Pork filling) was again, much better than most dim sum places. A generous serving of soy sauce bathed the rice rolls, which had a nice skin and well-seasoned and ample char siew. 

Bao Today XO Nissin Noodle

I had ordered the Bao Today's version of instant noodle that is omnipresent in most HK cafe. Their version had a XO sauce and had a very nice plating along an elongated plate where the individual components were nicely laid out.

The sauce itself was alright, nothing extraordinary, and the egg and the luncheon meat cooked just right. A dish like this needs no culinary skills, just getting each component correct and the overall presentation here is a cut above it's competitors.

Banana Flavored Red Bean Paste Pancake

We had a couple of desserts, and the first we had was the banana flavored red bean paste pancake. I have been having this chinese classic since I was young and the thing I look for is a nice thin pastry with just enough red bean paste to give it a nice balance.

In recent years, restaurants have added banana into the red bean paste to give it an extra lift and fragrance and it works perfectly here as well. The pastry, whilst not as thin as I remembered, has a crispy crust on top and is fragrant with a hint of eggs.

Black Sesame Bun

The highlight, and their signature, is of course the Black Sesame Bun. And this certainly did not disappoint. I am not a big bao or bun person, but this can certainly make me a convert. The skin has a hint of sesame spots which is atheistically pleasing.

Break open the center of the bun, and you can see the delicious black sesame filling oozing out with seduction. The bun skin is perfectly soft and smooth, and eating it when it just came out of the steamer is an absolute delight.

The combination of its wonderfully textured skin and the sweet (but not overly sweet) and slightly burnt taste of sesame has to be really savored on its own. We finished this without hesitation and left us craving for more!

Overall, this is a delightful place which I will recommend to anyone who enjoys HK cafe and dim sum. It is one of the finds for such cuisine and it is located right in the heart of Orchard, so very accessible.

Pricewise, it is very reasonable and the dim sum items, are within the usual price range, yet for the rather generous portions, it is really provides good value.

The only one downside is it feels more like a kopitiam as it is not air conditioned, but the service is good for such places, and though small, feels kind of cosy in its own way. Just don't get too sweaty on a hot sunny day.

Bao Today
313 Orchard Road

Written, filmed, edited and directed by Silverchef Productions.
No black sesame bun was harmed during the shooting of this video.
Shot and edited entirely on Apple's Iphone 4 and at 313 Somerset.
"White Horse" performed by Taylor Swift.


  1. Oooh, like you, I'm not big on baos but I'll love anything with black sesame! =)

  2. yeah .. same same :) ... the buns here are softer and served piping hot .. esp the smooth soft skins, unlike the colder more stale ones in other joints

  3. I have a serious love of dim sum so everything here is making me drool! Oh black sesame buns...a favorite of mine.

  4. If you live here, you will get to savor dim sum on a daily basis :) ... and yeah, they taste better than they look!