Belly Bao @ Goodgod Small Bar – Haymarket
Good god! The buns at this place! So so good. Finally got my hands on some! Been seeing pics floating around a lot with these really awesome buns. We have them back home called “Kou Rou Bao (扣肉包)” which is braised pork belly stuffed between these sweet white “Bao – steam bun”, sometimes served with fresh lettuce or picked vegetables. Belly bao here did it by bringing it to the next level, with a variety of different ingredients.
Walk down scary flight of stairs, please note that they are only open between Wednesdays – Saturdays. And I believe on some Thursdays, you are able to get one of their burgers as well (till sold out – according to their Instagram account) I must have it! I must I must some day!
Just a note: Drinks bar is located closer to the stairs while the Belly Bao kitchen and ordering counter is located closer to the back of the club. I got the both mixed up, silly me. Please note that Belly Bao kitchen is cash only, but they do have an ATM located in the premises. The drinks bar accepts EFTPOS payment above $20.
A salad of fresh carrots, herbs & crushed peanuts tossed in a traditional vinaigrette with black sesame crackers. Little miss lighting director loves her fresh salad. I could her the crunchy cracker and her complimenting the freshness of the vegetables. Either that or she’s really starving. But I have to say it looks really good.
Crunchy and deliciously hot sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aioli. Good spicy kick from the sauce. When sharing, note that the aioli doesn’t drip on the bottom fries, so if spice isn’t your thing, go deep, but if spicy sauce is everyone’s “thing”, well, don’t be mean, start from the bottom and share! It is served up nice and hot, grab a fork, a pair of chopsticks or just go straight at it with your fingers if you are brave enough, really good snack, great serving size too, very generous.
Our order arrived! The one that really caught my eye was the braised pork belly. Firm fatty pork with clear layers of meat just jumped right out at me saying “you have to eat me, but first, let me take a selfie”. So I did. I took many selfies of the lovely trio over and over again. Buns are the usual size you expect from a “Kou Rou Bao (扣肉包)”, but 1 isn’t enough that’s for sure. Between me and Little Miss Lighting director, we split 3 buns, the salad and fries. We didn’t finish the fries, I blame it on the late afternoon snack I had at work. The lovely gentleman at the counter suggested 2 buns and a side each for a complete meal. I believe he is probably right.
And over and over again I did. I had one of my lighting directors with me tonight for dinner, and had her working really hard to make sure the light was good in this dark cosy place. From this view, we can see the soft shell crab bun, bits of chilli dotting the chilli aioli that it is served with.
I do like the baos. The white buns that hugs the meat and filling together has the right amount of sweetness just like the “mantou – sweet steam buns” that I absolutely love. The fact that the buns are sweet just works so well with the savoury ingredients.
Served with picked mustard greens, coriander, crushed peanuts and kewpie mayo. “What’s kewpie mayo?” well, it’s the Japanese mayo you get from the Asian grocery store, that has a saltier taste than the normal tangy mayo you get from the usual places. This slow braised pork belly bao was amazing, the fat melts away when you bite into it, the meat is tender and flavourful and just so amazing. I can do with a couple more of these braised pork belly anytime. I would say I’m not a huge fan of coriander, but with this bao, it is not overpowering at all. The pork definitely takes centre stage here.
It’s awesome that pickled vegetables are included in this dish, the same way it would have been traditionally. Mayo is probably the most “fusion-y” part of the whole deal.
Topped with perfectly fried crackling, picked radish, coriander and kewpie mayo. More salty mayo to contrast the sweet buns! Every single crunch was great. I picked the crackling out just to have it on its own and it was great. Not greasy and none of the burst of hot oil thing, just a proper porky crunch. You can see the honeycomb cross section of the crackling here, so good.
Vegetables were fresh and just great with the roast pork belly. I think I am in pork belly heaven here. The meat is nicely seasoned and well roasted and juicy. Gluten free option available for this one.
Well fried juicy soft shell crab with watercress, chilli aioli and lemon vinaigrette. I really do like my soft shell crab. The idea of it in a sweet bun is just interesting. It isn’t wrong, just interesting. I would never have thought to put seafood in one of these buns at all. Actually lobster rolls and soft shell crab burgers, hmmm, I can see it work now.
The vegetables are fresh and the flavours compliment well. This spicy chilli aioli is great with the crab. A big “yes!” to well fried food that’s not greasy!
Some of these baos are available with gluten free options by swapping the buns out for lettuce cups. There’s also a crispy tofu option which is probably good for vegetarians as well. It is always so good to know that restaurants are able to accommodate to dietary requirements, makes it easier for bigger groups and such.
Other food available are fried chicken and even dessert! Here’s a link to their menu. I will totally have to head back in for their dessert baos one day, mmmm sliced strawberries with vanilla ice cream in a fried sweet bun. The sound of it is just delicious. Walked past a couple of tables with fried chicken, and those look pretty good as well. Considering how nicely the sweet potato fries are fried up, and that the pork is well seasoned, I’m sure the fried chicken should be pretty decent as well.