REVIEW: Belly Bao at Goodgod Small Club

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

The third restaurant to take up the kitchen space inside Goodgod Small Club might be the best yet. Stepping in hot on the heels of Jonkanoo’s short and sweet tenure and following three years of The Dip, whose head chef was about as good at cooking as he is at righting.

The opposite of Caribbean and cheeseburgers might be Taiwanese food, but Belly Bao are serving up one of the greatest Taiwanese creations, bao! The soft, pillowy fold-over bun things with delicious braised meats inside. Bao have appeared randomly on a few menus across Sydney over the last few years, most famously as Momofuku’s pork bun, but Belly Bao is Sydney’s first dedicated house of bao, with eight varieties on the menu.

All of the food groups are covered – pork, chicken, crab, beef, tofu and ice cream. I was expecting to love the slow braised pork belly bao the most, a classic bao available at a few Taiwanese restaurants around Sydney, however it was a little disappointing, the usually melt-in-your-mouth belly fat was on the thick and chewy side. Instead the king bao of the menu is the roast pork belly with crackling, pickled radish and mayo. It’s juicy, crunchy, salty, sweet and delicious. So are the other savoury baos, but the roast pork belly bao is the juiciest, crunchiest, saltiest, sweetest and most delicious. All hail king bao. The crispy tofu bao was my second favourite, which will be good news to vegetarians sick of eating fast food vastly inferior to the meaty options.

There’s (thankfully) no mock meat alternative to the other star of Belly Bao’s menu – fried chicken. Combining the best parts of Taiwanese salt & pepper chicken and sticky Korean fried chicken, this fried bird is immediately some of the best in town. Don’t go overboard ordering every single bao in one sitting – make sure you leave room for an entire fried chicken to yourself, best eaten while sitting in the middle of the Goodgod dancefloor with your eyes closed.

The fluffy white bao wrappers are deep fried until crunchy and brown and stuffed with ice cream for dessert, which is a sentence probably far more effective at getting you down to Belly Bao as soon as possible than this entire review. Hop to it.

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