May 28, 2010

There are Baos and there are 包s

Baos (包) are amongst Singapore’s most cherished street food.

They’re white, light, fluffy buns packed with meat , char siew, yam paste or whatever catches the maker’s fancy. It’s best with a side drink of kopi, teh or sarabat, or as part of a dim sum breakfast. In fact, our baos are the same as what you’d get in Hong Kong or Malaysia.

image The prototypical Char Siew Bao. Notice the soft and fluffy bun?(Photo from: Lydia Teh; My Kitchen)

But there are 包s (also pronounced: bao) that aren’t quite like the one in the above photo.

These 包s come direct from China with the influx of China immigrants and workers over the last few years. It was just a matter of time before they started making and selling food from home…much like how early Singaporeans did way back in Raffles’ time.

包s are pretty much the same as a bao. They’re all fillings within a bun. The difference lies in the dough, size, and taste: solid, huge, and singular.

Huge baos... There are Baos and there are 包s

These 包s are the size of a man’s hand and they’re enough for a meal (or two). But it’s the dough that fills you up. It’s hearty, heavy and stays forever in your stomach.

That’s one reason why a makan khaki (Zedy) wasn’t too enamoured with them.

For him, it’s overtly singular – it’s a meat bun with scarce else; quite unlike our big baos (according to his wife there are several places in Singapore that sell super-huge baos; please tweet me if you know where they are!) which contain a mix of chye poh, minced pork, hard-boiled eggs and the occasional lap cheong.

Nothing but vegetables - There are Baos and there are 包sThe meat 包 was already in my belly, all that was left is this veggie 包

Personally I thought it was a nice change of taste from our dainty, pretty dim sum.

Those 包s had a “Salt of the Earth” feel. It was direct, honest and promised a full meal of onion-flavoured minced pork in a hunger-busting bun. Best of all, each 包 costs a mere $1.50 -- simply perfect for cost-conscious yet gluttonous Singaporeans.

Close up of a vegetable bao - There are Baos and there are 包sClose up of a veggie 包

Where: They’re all sold at stalls just between People’s Park Complex and the Food Centre (Foursquare). Go before lunch and dinner times to avoid queuing up.

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