The team that made Sydney fall in love with the Taiwanese street food gua bao have a new home. Following jaunts on the food market scene and at Hudson Ballroom, Belly Bao have settled at a standalone shop on King Street.
With a bigger kitchen up her sleeve, owner Sylvia Tran has expanded the menu. Whereas, at Goodgod/Hudson Ballroom, there was just one baoger offered each night, four options are now available all the time: The Baoger (Angus beef patty, cheese, cos lettuce, onion, pickled radish, Baoger sauce), as well as one with eggplant, chicken and chopped cheese. A baoger, in case you're unfamiliar with it, is a Western hamburger, but served Asian-style, with bao as bread. Newtown's vegan crowd are well-catered for across all menu categories, including the bao noodles. "They're made with exactly the same recipe as bao, but rolled out, shaped into noodle form and boiled," says Sylvia. "We're serving them with house-made satay chill oil,". For dessert, the famous Gaytime bao makes its return alongside pandan baonuts.
Its liquor licence is pending so for now, the venue is BYO. Regardless, the food bill won't be a shock: the namesake belly baos are only $7. The space itself is warm and inviting: think browns, oranges and greens. There's an L-shaped bar, a banquette for large gatherings and round tables for twos and threes, surrounded by old-school Chinese restaurant chairs, newly upholstered. Keep an eye out for the Mahjong table and the dreamy, tropical-inspired feature wall by local artist Simon Wheeldon.