Did you even have yum cha if you didn’t order char siu bao? When it comes to these delicious pockets of steaming hot, sweet meat, we love both the classic steamed buns and the baked variety with sugary top crusts. Here are our thoughts on five of the city’s best known bao.
Dim Sum Library
While this modern dim sum restaurant draws in Instagrammers with its quirky presentation, you’re better off going elsewhere if you’re after exceptional char siu bao. The buns are filled with large chunks of saucy pork, but the dough itself was substandard at best. We were also disappointed at how small the bao were.
Price: HK$62 for three
Address: One Pacific Place, Shop 124, Level 1, Admiralty
Dim Dim Sum
If you ask us, the char siu bao at Dim Dim Sum has the best bun-to-filling ratio. We liked the flavour of the filling and that it wasn’t too saucy. We found the dough to be rather dry – but we imagine they’d be better if you were lucky enough to get a fresh batch. It’s a small price to pay, though, for bao that only cost around HK$6 each. You also get some old-school yum cha vibes at this restaurant, which adds to the eating experience.
Price: HK$19 for three
Address: 26-28 Man Wui Street, Jordan (more locations across Hong Kong)
One Dim Sum
This humble dim sum joint was awarded a Michelin star in 2011 and 2012, and although it was not able to keep its star, we think the char siu bao here still deserve a shout-out. The saucy pork filling – which we couldn’t get enough of – was surrounded by a fluffy pillow-like bun. These well-executed bao make a super affordable and filling snack that we would happily eat any time of the day or night.
Price: HK$18 for two
Address: 209A-209B Tung Choi Street, Prince Edward
Don’t expect cheap dim sum at this luxurious Michelin-starred restaurant on the lower floor of the Kowloon Shangri-la Hotel. But if you’re looking to treat yourself or the family, we highly recommend you splurge on its char siu bao. Shang Palace offers baked buns with sugary top crusts like the ones you find on boh loh bao (pineapple buns). The buns were surprisingly, yet pleasantly, chewy – like mochi – and the pork inside was tasty and perfectly flavoured.
Price: HK$78 for three
Address: 64 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East
Tim Ho Wan
If you’re after more affordable baked buns, head to Tim Ho Wan. This yum cha restaurant also holds a Michelin star, but offer delicious dim sum at famously low prices. The baked bao are a popular item on the menu, and it’s not hard to see why. They cost less than a third of the ones at Shang Palace but are just as tasty. The savoury filling pairs well with the sweet dough, and everything just melts together in your mouth. Just be prepared to queue.
Price: HK$23 for three
Address: Shop 12A-12B, Hong Kong Station Podium Level 1, IFC Mall, Central (more locations across Hong Kong)