Mumbai Food: The humble bao gets interesting with these offbeat fillings
Raw banana, pear ganache, tofu, Beef Bulgogi and Ghee Roast Mutton — the humble on-the-go staple is getting adventurous with its fillings
Beef Bulgogi Bao
Imagine succulent, thinly-sliced pan-grilled steak stuffed inside a fluffy steamed bao. “Beef Bulgogi is a dish by itself but here, we’ve combined two cuisines — the Chinese Bao and this Korean beef preparation — to offer guests a delicious fusion,” says Brian Lopes, head chef, 145. This tender beef is mixed with soya and chilli sauce, giving it a delicious caramelised coating.
At: MG Road, Kala Ghoda.
Cost: Rs 230
Ghee Roast Mutton Bao
Move aside, appams, the baos are in town. At Social, the traditional Mangalorean Ghee Roast gets a fun twist. It is stuffed in a pita bread bao. The thin Lebanese bread is stuffed with shredded morsels of spicy, semi-dry mutton. “These baos are our version of a slider. We chose fillings that are delicious, work well with the pita and are good enough for people who want to eat a bao meal,” says Shamsul Wahid, group executive chef at Social.
At: Social outlets in Colaba, Palladium Social, Todi Mill, Khar, BKC, Fun Republic and Goregaon
Call: 65110361 (Todi Mill)
Cost: Rs 210
Raw Banana Bao
Enjoy a tropical, healthy vegetarian bao with raw banana, coconut, raw papaya kimchi, topped with fried okra and oregano seasoning. “This is our newest addition and our version of a green bao. Everything we’ve used in it, from the ingredients to the seasoning, is green in colour,” shares Siddharth Somaiya, chef and founder, The Bao Haus Co. The lone raw element in the dish is the papaya kimchi.
At: Shop No 10, Om Moreshwar Sadan, 27, Rajwadkar Street, Colaba
Cost: Rs 220
If a protein or vegetable-filled bao isn’t to your liking, try a dessert bao. At the Mahim outlet of Foodarto, choose between a Pear Ganache (dark chocolate sprinkled with crunchy peanuts) or an Apple Caramel (sweet apple pieces with a hint of caramel). “Our concept was to build fusion food around baos. Everyone loves the idea of a dessert bao and we are now in talks to expand this line,” says founder Gaurav Dubey.
At: Gopi Tank Marg, Mahim (W).
Cost: Rs 140
Love or hate tofu, you’re going to enjoy this bao. At One Street Over, they serve a Tofu Bao — seared tofu with chilli soy garlic, gunpowder and a giardiniera relish. “We wanted to do something different and add a bit of complexity into the bao, moving away from typical fillings. I love tofu but don’t like the way it is usually served, so thought of playing around with it,” says Kelvin Cheung, chef consultant. An interesting addition to the dish is the gunpowder. “I am infatuated with south Indian vegetarian food. The gunpowder adds spice, balance and an interesting texture to the bao,” he says. The giardiniera relish is one that Cheung grew up eating, and contains pickled peppers, cauliflowers and carrots.
At: 35th road, off Linking Road, Khar (W).
Cost: Rs 500
Duck in Hoisin Sauce
This bao is inspired by the Beijing specialty, the Peking Duck. “We use the same techniques — marinate it in five spices and then roast it. The roasted meat is then sliced and shredded,” says Prashanth, executive chef, The Fatty Bao. The shredded meat gives it a nice bite and the hoisin sauce adds in a warm, meaty flavour. It is served with sesame seeds and scallions.
At: Ground floor, Summerville, Linking Road, Bandra (W).
Cost: Rs 300
Chef Siddharth Somaiya at The Bao Haus Co. Pics/Poonam Bathija
Chef Kelvin Cheung with the Tofu Bao
A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli