Samui Wining & Dining
FLAVOUR OVERFLOW
Bao Bao Café & Eatery opens up a world of street eats in an original setting.

Bao Bao Café & Eatery opens up a world of street eats in an original setting.Looking for a laid-back restaurant that delivers way more than it promises? These days everyone’s searching for a cool place to hang out in, to eat and drink, and turn up more or less any time they fancy. Bao Bao Café & Eatery ticks all those boxes, and a good few more. Bao Bao, serving Asian-themed food, is housed in a massive partially open-sided building with a terrace out back. Forget having to keep your elbows in while you eat, this place is big on space. It has several different areas, and you can choose between dining tables and loungestyle seating. It’s the very opposite of a packed Asian diner, and there’s no clattering of pots and pans from the very efficient kitchen here. Staff are welcoming and attentive, and you’re free to linger as long as you want. They can also explain anything that’s on the menu that you may be unfamiliar with, and can make recommendations.

          

The café is named after ‘bao’. You may never have heard the word before, but what’s certain is that this won’t be the last time you come across it. Bao are becoming increasingly popular – just like sushi some decades ago. They’re buns made of rice dough that are steamed in a traditional basket. A little bit of yeast is added to complete the process, but they’re not to be confused with bread in any way, or for that matter, dumplings. They tend to have traditional fillings of one kind or another, but increasingly these are becoming ever more creative. Here at Bao Bao, the chef and his team focus on both traditional and unique offerings. Bao tend to be eaten with traditional pickles, and you’ll find these here at the café too, along with some Chinese-style sauces. The team have gone to great lengths to make them irresistible for just about anyone, and judging from the looks on diners’ faces, they’ve succeeded.

          

You can order each type of bao singly or as a trio. Try Chicken Teriyaki, Fried Chicken Kimchi, Shrimp Mango or Black Pepper Soft Shell Crab – you’ll be amazed at the tastiness of each. If you’re coming as a group, this kind of food is absolutely made for sharing.P52-2

          

There’s a lot more on the menu. You’ll find ‘Xiao Chi’ which literally translates from the Chinese as ‘little eats’. Over half a dozen of these include fried pork wantons, Portobello edamame gyoza and Sichuan pepper eggplants – the theme is Asian, but with varied offerings that are bound to please. You can also try soups here, such as green curry pumpkin or a simple miso soup.

          

For desserts there’s a temptingly long list. House specialities include ‘Bao Ice-Cream Bounty’ a decadent mix of coconut and chocolate, served, yes, in a bao – which, incidentally, works, and very well too. Also try western style cakes or sorbets and ice-creams.

          

Bao Bao is definitely a place to come for coffee. Pang On Premium Arabica is used, directly from the Royal Project Foundation, and you can enjoy cappuccino, latte, mocha or espresso, exactly as you would in a traditional café. If you’re not into coffee, try a Thai-style tea, or loose teas such as a Thai Oolong, Japanese Sencha or Sri Lanka Black Tea. Bao Bao also makes its own lemonade, and blends it with butterfly pea flowers and a variety of other ingredients.Bao Bao Café & Eatery opens up a world of street eats in an original setting. Fresh juices include pineapple and watermelon, and then there are coconut shakes, along with healthy combos that’ll boost your mood with vitamins. There are also various Asian beers and Thai craft beers. Drop in for a cocktail or one of the range of wines, mostly new world and which suit most budgets.

          

Last but not least, even if bao are traditional and people have been eating them for centuries, the setting at Bao Bao is resolutely modern. Scan their QR code to find out everything about what they’re serving, and while feasting at the café, take advantage of the free fibre-optic Wi-Fi that’s available. It’s some seven times more powerful than in most places, making Bao Bao a place where people find it a cinch to come and work. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to pick Bao Bao as a place to spend a while, and all of them are good. Taste what’s on the menu and you’ll be won over – that’s why bao eateries are beginning to spring up far from their traditional home.

          

Dimitri Waring


 


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