Bao Now!

119 Hardware Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 9670 6394

With every food trend that sweeps Melbourne, there always has to be someone who has to add their own spin to what is normally a staple dish. And in the case of bao (Chinese steamed buns), the guys at Bao Now!  decided to be the ones who dared to be different.


While traditional fillings such as BBQ pork are available, the focus at this little Hardware Street kiosk is unconventional fillings, borrowed from well-known dishes around the world. Think New York buffalo chicken and Indian butter chicken and countless others from a line of constantly-changing flavours.


They also have lettuce bao (san choi bao) for those on a gluten-free diet or phase. Flavours can come in anything from Thai chicken to Mexican pork.


I might be a sometimes (okay more like occasional) paleo eater but there was no way in hell I’d ever choose lettuce over dough. When I rocked up at the store one weekday lunchtime, they were having a $9 pack where you received three baos and one iced tea. Given that a savoury bao is $3 and a dessert one is $2.80, you’re essentially getting the tea (or water, if you prefer) for free. Done.

In addition to my three baos, I also decided to play good workmate by buying Sean a BBQ pork bao. The dude’s never tried BBQ pork buns before and hey, I wasn’t going to let him die without trying one. He LOVED it.


For lunch, I had a bacon cheeseburger and an Indian butter chicken bao with a vanilla custard one for dessert. I’m a bit of a bao purist so I wasn’t expecting much from these rather ambitious flavours. But you know what? They weren’t bad. The bacon cheeseburger bao was filled with meat, bacon bits, a gravy-like sauce and I could taste hints of tomato sauce in it.

Meanwhile, the butter chicken filling in the second savoury bao tasted a lot better than some butter chicken dishes I’ve had at Indian restaurants. Equally delicious was the vanilla custard bao which I only got because they ran out of Nutella bao. There were regrets, though, as my teeth sunk into the creamy and silky custard filling.


All this was washed down with an iced green rice tea – the only thing that would have made it perfect would be a handful of tapioca pearls on the bottom. Mmmm.

I was pleasantly surprised by how decent the buns at Bao Now! were. Sure, they will probably offend bao purists but I reckon that if something tastes good, who cares. That said, the buns only filled me up for a good 45 minutes before I started to get hungry again so I would only really recommend this place if you want a snack rather than a filling meal. For the latter, there’s always Maccas or Classic Curry Restaurant.

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  1. In the red corner, we have the undisputed champion of Melbourne, Tacoooooooo!!! And in the blue corner, we have the little skinny up and comer, the Baooooooooo… ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rummmmmmmmmmmmmble!!!!!!!

  2. LOL at directing ppl to Maccas and Classic Curry… I second that! I am seriously so behind in the “food trends” in Melbourne. I always miss out with the latest happs in the food scene =X. I love it when restaurants actively set themselves apart from the rest and make their food as creative as they can, like this place. Have to try………. Eventually haha

  3. Thank you for the great write up! We’re definitely not a traditional bao place – our dough uses unbleached flour and less lard, as we purposefully aimed for a healthy option. We’re trying to bring fast, fresh, cheap and convenient food to the CBD, so thank you so much for dropping by!

  4. this write up is like you say “filled me up for bout 45 mins, only good for a snack, then i got very very hungry again” so i went on there facebook site, read. looked and salivated. yep definately next day of list of things i need doing.

  5. YAY you blogged about Bao Now 🙂 I didn’t know that you go on a paleo diet 😉 is it hard to follow? I heard you can’t have processed food and sugar so I was turned off hahaha you know me!

    LOL Ricky said the same thing that they weren’t filling enough and after only half an hour for him, he was starving again… maybe they should make their baos a little bigger or more filling? Because last time when we went to Wonderbao I was so full until late at night 😀

    Damn you didn’t try the nutella bao ~ Doesn’t matter if you want we can go back again 🙂

    1. I did stick to a strict paleo diet for two weeks last year but after that two weeks, I relaxed the rules a little bit and incorporated more grains into my diet (without going overboard). The result was that I did lose tummy fat, experienced less bloating and had more energy. These days I just eat whatever I feel like but I do try to eat grains as little as possible (hard because I love pastas, breads, noodles etc!)

      Definitely going back to try the Nutella bao!

  6. First, tacos. Then baos. Next thing we need is a stall/food truck in Fitzroy that specialises only in Philly Cheesesteaks, “wit real Whiz and onions” on a cheap-as-a-chips white roll (none of that Brioche or Dench baguette stuff).

      1. It’s like Pizza pockets but better! Actually the convenient store food is not bad! I couldn’t get up for the breakfast at the hotel so I would always go buy the niku mans and cheesedogs. My hubby said I like to eat rubbish meat but meat + cheese? YES PLEASE! Hehehe definitely gotta go! I wouldn’t think it’s hard to convince your man though. Akihabara is a boys heaven lol!

  7. I did find bao now a bit pricey, especially given how small they were, but damn that vanilla custard bao was good! You didn’t miss a thing, ordering it over the nutella one (though the nutella one was also delicious) 😉

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