Baos have made quite a splash in the local food scene last 2016, inspiring both weekend market and food park mainstays. Now, it looks like these “soft Asian buns” are here to stay with the newly opened Don Bao in Kapitolyo, from the same team (almost) that blessed us with Frankie’s and International Burger Company.
Despite enjoying worldwide appreciation only recently, bao is not entirely new because it’s merely an upgrade of what we know as Gua Bao (kua-pao), or steamed flat buns stuffed with slice meat in between. Don Bao pretty much sticks to this basic, but with a lot of flavor twists that are both inventive and edible—if you know what we mean. The Fire Bao, for example, packs a slice of pork, sriracha mayo, pickled radish and carrots. The result is a well-balanced tang and spice that makes you want chug a bottle of Asahi.
Don Bao’s Crazy Bao has made a name for itself months prior to opening when it won 3rd Place at Ultimate Taste Test 2016. Loaded with kani, savory eel sauce, Japanese mayo, and tempura flakes, it wows with a truly “Japanese” taste and ends each bite with a satisfying crunch. The P.King Bao is another standout among the seven baos we’ve tried, and you’ll know why we found its name hilarious if you love bad puns! Instead of real Peking Duck, it features an equally tasty roasted chicken substitute, with hoisin sauce, cucumber, and prawn crackers. So good you’ll believe it’s actually Peking Duck with your eyes closed.
We forgot to ask how the Don Bao team came up with its business name, but we can only guess that it’s because they also serve Japanese rice bowls (don) apart from their baos. Curry lovers must not miss out on the Katsu Curry Don, which pleases with hefty portion of Japanese rice, plus a slab of chicken katsu that could feed two. The curry sauce is above average with its mild spice level and rich taste, complementing the katsu instead of drowning it. The Hamburger Curry version is also as good, but with more kick as the beef patty is more flavorful than chicken katsu, and thus makes for a better flavor contrast.
Don Bao is aimed at pleasing all kinds of diners, as its shows on their take on Wagyu Beef Cubes skewer and Spam Musubi. Heck, they even have Fried Bao with Nutella S’Mores. But it’s those sweetish, dense yet pillowy baos that will keep customers coming back. They’re just the perfect “canvass” for colorful flavors and textures that make Don Bao inventive and authentic at the same time, because their experimentation merely elevated the familiar buns to a whole new level, instead of turning it to something else.
Location: Unit 1 Brixton Victoria Plaza, #1 Brixton Street, Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Hours: 5PM – 12AM