Taste Test: Take a bao this lunar new year
McEwan is a big fan of Missy Hui, who heads up the kitchen at his Fabbrica restaurant.
The pork bun has evolved from its traditional bite-sized char siu bao to the reinvented hand-held pork belly sammie. Here, Mark McEwan teams up with chef Missy Hui to pick their favourites. Who will win in this classic battle of old versus new?
Winner: Pure pork-fection
Momofuku Noodle Bar
“The texture on the pork is very nice,” says Hui, and McEwan agrees. “They did just a great job. I’m eating pure fat and I’m enjoying it. Without a doubt, this has the best taste,” he says, adding it also has the best sauce.
190 University Ave., $12 (2)
Runner-up: The right ratio
Mii Sandwich Co.
“It’s got more going on, cucumbers, coriander, parsley,” says McEwan. “It’s a very different take on the pork, the cut and the cook,” says Hui. McEwan adds, “It has a good ratio of vegetables to protein to sauce, and I love the spice.”
Yorkdale Mall, $4.99
3rd Place: A beautiful bao
“This one is really attractive, and the pork is cooked really well. Mine is really soft, but there’s a little too much spice,” says McEwan. “I love the texture of the peanuts, and the pork is quite nice, but it’s a bit too different with the sauce,” adds Hui.
2210 Dundas St. W., $5.15
Sizing up the competition
“This is a good size. I’m feeling it a little more because it has a lot of filling,” says McEwan. “Definitely a good ratio of bun to filling, but I feel like it could use more flavour on the filling,” says Hui.
808 York Mills Rd. #8, $3 (3)
Kicking it old school
“This tastes like every bun I ate growing up. It’s really fluffy,” says Hui. McEwan agrees, adding, “This is the traditonal pork bun. There just wasn’t a lot of filling in mine, so the ratio is a little off.”
505 Hwy. 7, Thornhill, $4.99 (3)
A five spice fave
Banh Mi Boys
“We’ve got turnip, cucumber and carrots, but a bit too much carrot,” says McEwan. Hui adds, “The crunch of the carrot is nice and so is the sauce, but the five spice gets overpowered by the char.”
2365 Yonge St., $4.25
Keeping it simple
Lee Chen Asian Bistro
“This is a more traditional portion, and it is one-dimensional in terms of composition,” says McEwan. “It is really soy forward, and the soy is nice. The pork is also cooked well,” says Hui.
832 Yonge St., $8.59 (2)
A new age char siu
“I like that it looks kind of like a pizza pocket. The texture of the bun is quite nice,” says Hui. “The bun is great, the moisture level is great, and it’s a bit sweet. I would finish my meal with this,” says McEwan.
241 Spadina Ave., $8 (2)