95 Turbot Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
+61 432 933 423
Before Melbourne started going crazy over steamed buns (bao) thanks to Wonderbao and Bao Now, David Schindler and Kevin Xu were already quietly serving up dumplings and bao at Steamed, their lunch only eatery in Brisbane.
Located beneath the Roma Street underpass, Steamed doesn’t come with bells and whistles, cool graphic interfaces and dozens of bespectacled hipsters sitting on milk crates outside. What Steamed does offer, however, is friendly service and a simple (okay, limited) menu of pork buns and three different types of dumplings to cater to Brisbane’s lunchtime crowd.
Steamed is very small – and very busy when I walked in during the peak lunch hour. Owner David mans the cashier, greeting customers in a mix of Mandarin and English while Kevin guards the large bamboo steamers to his left. Once the customer receives his or her foods, they are free to help themselves to some vinegar, soy or chilli oil before attempting to find an empty seat on one of the two communal tables in the eatery. I’ve been told that the big tables are made out of doors that became unhinged from dwellings during the Brisbane floods of 2011, which I thought was pretty cool.
Because I already had a bowl of ramen for lunch, I was only here to grab a few items off the menu to sample. The dumplings don’t come cheap – four pieces cost $6 while eight cost $10. I decided on a sampler pack of three dumplings and a bao for $7 and took them outside as there were no empty seats inside.
There are three dumplings to choose from and I got one of each: the Harbin (pork and chive), the Zen (vegetarian) and the Lovabull (‘beef with various spices that lack English names’ – lol). Each one may have been delicate, but they were all very flavoursome. My favourite was the pork and chive one though the Lovabull was great as well (for those of you wondering at home, it was strong on the five-spice powder). My only criticism would be that they were perhaps a bit too small for the price I paid.
At Steamed, they prefer to call their da bao ‘pork clouds’ which I thought was pretty cute – they certainly do remind me of clouds, so soft and fluffy. I thought the bao was excellent – there was a generous filling to bao ratio, and the dough was soft but not at all gluggy. The filling was coarse and tasty, with the chilli oil enhancing the overall taste of it. In hindsight, I’d have to say that these do beat Wonderbao’s da bao buns – they’re slightly cheaper too.
Steamed may not be as loud and as brazen as Melbourne’s Wonderbao or Bao Now but they do make great steamed buns, without causing a stir. Meanwhile, their dumplings may be expensive but worth a try. The queues at lunchtime are long so I would recommend going outside of peak periods or grabbing a takeaway box before they close at 5pm so you can have something to nibble on while you wait for your connecting train home at Roma Street station.