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Mr Bao

Exactly what you need to make it through the workday.
By Erina Starkey
September 17, 2015
By Erina Starkey
September 17, 2015

Forget Subway, the new CBD work lunch is Mr Bao, a city-based takeaway counter with counter seating that serves unfussed and fabulous gua baos, the Taiwanese answer to the taco. Geared to the lunch crowd, Mr Bao pumps out dreamy, pillow-soft steamed buns stuffed with slow-cooked meats and salads for just $6 a pop, or two for $11 if you want to bring one back for the boss and secure yourself a promotion next performance review.

Rather than just replicate the traditional Taiwanese barbecue pork bao, Mr Bao uses contemporary Asian fillings, including a Vietnamese-inspired pork belly bao served with a sheet of crackling, house-made hoisin, picked cucumber and coriander as well as a Japanese-inspired karaage chicken bao spiked with chilli aioli, pickled red cabbage and coriander. Each bao perfectly balances fattiness with freshness, spiciness with sweetness and softness with crunch; it's a valuable lesson on how to cook like a pro with a seriously limited set of ingredients. Take a bow, Mr Bao.

For the self-controlled salad eaters, they also sell a one-size-fits-all Asian slaw made with a base of fresh herbs, cabbages and peanuts in sesame dressing, which can be topped with your choice of pork belly ($10), fried chicken ($10), agedashi tofu ($10) or tempura prawn ($12). On more social occasions, go for sharing plates like Vietnamese spring rolls ($7), chicken wings with lime and coriander dipping sauce ($8), and crispy-fried soft shell crab "dippers" ($10), which are served alongside fresh cucumber, Singaporean chilli crab dipping sauce and a baby loaf of deep-fried bread so you can build-your-own bao and dirty up your blouse before your 3pm meeting.

There's also a small selection of Japanese beers and wines in case you decide to hang back and call it a sick day.

If it's a Monday and you desperately need a pick-me-up to get you through an afternoon of number crunching or cold calling, look no further than the two mini ice-cream bao-gers made from green tea ice-cream with dulce de leche caramel ($5.50) or vanilla ice-cream with yuzu custard ($5.50). It's a good reminder why you need to earn money in the first place.

Images: Bodhi Liggett.

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