Review: Bao Bar, Christchurch

Bao Bar's two most popular bao bun flavours, chicken and pork belly.
Laura Baker

Bao Bar's two most popular bao bun flavours, chicken and pork belly.

A taste of... Bao Bar, 111 Riccarton Rd, Riccarton, Christchurch.

We'd heard… Bao buns, steamed Chinese bread rolls filled with meat, are becoming an increasingly popular item on Asian-fusion menus around town. We decided to find out what the hype is about at the only eatery in town that is dedicated to the bao buns, Bao Bar. 

We started with… Ordering at the bar. It's our first time trying bao so we agree the tasting plate ($28) is a wise introductory choice. On the recommendation of the server we also order the two most popular bao bun flavours, pork belly and chicken ($7.50 each).

The tasting plate is plenty for two people.
Laura Baker

The tasting plate is plenty for two people.

We start to find a pew at the limited bar seating when a staff member says we should grab a booth up top, pointing to the stairs obscured at the back of the building. Unaware there was an upper level we're intrigued and head on up. Our efforts are rewarded. I'm amazed by the lovingly decorated second storey. A decorative leaf mat covers the ceiling and cute murals of trees wrap the walls. 

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Bao Bar's interior decor is its stand-out feature.
Laura Baker

Bao Bar's interior decor is its stand-out feature.

The food arrives in good time and we start with the light, warm bao buns. The five spice pork belly meat is good, but the southern style chicken with chilli mayo is our winning pick. Next, we move onto the ample platter featuring fried tofu, fried chicken, rice croquettes, takoyaki and cheesy bao bread. The amount of bread and fried food is too much for me to handle.

I'm pleased I've tried bao buns, but it won't be a go-to meal for me. In contrast my dining partner has nothing but high praise for Bao Bar's food. "Fried chicken, warm bread, Asahi beer, what's not to love?" He asks surprised by my indifference. Despite the fact I'm not a convert I'd happily return for a drink and nibbles.

The service was… Helpful. The recommendations were appreciated. 

The vibe was… Relaxing and casual.

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If you go… Head upstairs and discover the enchanting dining space with wow factor. 

Rating out of 5: 4

 - Stuff

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