• Wonderbao (A'Beckett St, Melbourne)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have lunches that were quick but healthy and hot?  These were my thoughts debating lunch, attempting to look beyond toasted sandwiches.  A few days later, I found Wonderbao.

Hidden down an A’Beckett Street corridor, this little hide-out has already been well discovered by Melbourne’s food-loving community.  The principle is simple (and pulls off as quirky):  fresh, quality bao, a specialisation easy to win with the majority of outlets opting for cheap and cheerful instead of gourmet.

I ordered ordered the two vegetarian savouries (the shiitake mushroom bao and the vegetarian gua bao) and waited amongst the steam of the bamboo with baos heating and chilled music playing, feeling like I was in a Japanese spa.  Moments afterwards I was handed a neatly wrapped parcel.

And inside was this:

The gua bao was soft with silken tofu with a batter like an agedashi one holding it together.  The folded bao was the texture of marshmallows (without the stickiness), light, soft but still filling. Crushed peanuts along with tiny pieces of lightly pickled greens, gave this snack its tasty, tangy, flavour.  Somehow it felt comforting, like a soft warm pillow after a long day.

The shiitake bao was less impressive.  The dough was heavier as the bun to filling ratio increased.  Inside were mushrooms, carrots and cabbage.  It was less interesting with the flavours of a typical bao from any decent Chinese restaurant, or, dare I say it, supermarket.

There is also a sweet taro bao on the menu which makes three vegetarian options.

Bonuses: the atmosphere is chilled, modern and unique; the food is packaged perfectly; it serves as both a snack or a meal depending on your order, and; it is fresh but ready quickly.

The not so good sides: the space has a pleasant atmosphere but is small, seeing me eating on the State Library lawn; the gua bao was delicious but I would only order this if I were to return.

Overall, I liked it.  I liked the experience of Wonderbao and the idea that it gives healthy comfort food easily and cheaply.

Shop 4/19-37 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9654 7887

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