For the benefit of souls such as myself who had no idea what a bao was:
Ex: "The server returned with a plate of bao, some fried rice, and a big bowl of soup"
Right, so now that's out of the way. Here goes.
The number of Chinese restaurants in Colombo is astounding, and the fact that I have never in all my lifetime of eating, come across Bao, in any of them, is quite possibly unimaginable. Nonetheless, such is life. And is why we're happy to announce that Colombo now has its very own pop-up store that also works with delivery, dedicated to serving up bao for your eating pleasure.
Hari Bao is available for delivery after 5 pm on weekdays and they have 3 options you could go with – Pork Belly, Pulled Jackfruit and Sous Vide Chicken. And they also happen to have the option of getting all three in one go (Rs. 990) which we happened to choose.
So, after much anticipation and a few series of unfortunate events that resulted in us being hungry for a while longer, we finally got our three baos to swoon over.
I dived into these cloud-like baos, whilst thinking about every anime I had seen them in. Fluffy, white and adorable as hell, the baos wound up being almost like a sort of cakelike bun with a light sugary note hidden in the white dough, which, surprisingly, worked really well with the filling.
Let me start with the Chicken, which was, unfortunately, our least favourite. Whilst you could tell that the chicken had been marinated quite nicely, we found the chicken to be dry, and hard. Accompanied with crushed peanuts, pickles and spring onions, this was alright at best. Even the accompaniments didn't make much of a difference.
Then we have the Pulled Jackfruit. While we did have slight qualms about this one, we were very much surprised to see how good it actually was. The Jackfruit seemed to almost blend in with the sauce. Fiery red with a whole bunch of sauces to pull it through and combined with the acidity of the spring onion, it's a winner.
Plus, the softness of the jackfruit blend, combined really well with the shell. Sweet with a hint of crunch, we loved this one.
The Pork was the best of the lot. Smothered in sauce and a bunch of other veggies, it had quite a bit of pork involved. Spicy, sweet, and accompanied by the sharp tang of the spring onion and the crunch of the peanut, there were a lot of meaty pork pieces, along with just a couple of fatty bits. This was as good as a cheat meal or comfort food could get. Trust us on this – the next time you order from Hari Bao, get the Pork Belly. You can thank us later.
In conclusion, we liked it. Sure, there were a couple of bumps on the way but, all in all, Hari Bao was pretty great. We'd recommend it.