Author: Sassy Eater.
I love Singapore Chilli Crabs, I love fried Mantou, and unquestionably I LOVE Mantou dipped into Chilli Crabs gravy! Who’s with me ?? Must try Bao Makers, the latest cafe joining the league of cafes, that is situated at the heritage district Jalan Besar, pioneered by Chye Seng Huat Hardware (See my review of CSHH).
Bao Makers have done a good job with their infusion of local dishes and bao concept, something that is definitely refreshing for the cafe scene for it offers something different from the other players in the scene which is often stuck with serving the usual such as Eggs Benedicts and Waffles.
The cafe interior has an industrial look with three colour tones used, white, grey, brown. Bao Makers design is mainly minimalist with white wall panels, unfinished cemented walls and furniture with wooden accents.
The specialties here, as the name of the cafe suggests, are their fusion “bao” concepts revolving around Mantou buns with various fillings from the ordinary braised pork belly to more indulgent offering that packed in chili crab. Simple mains are also available here, such as the Caesar Salad, Chicken Strips to Truffle Fries or the more interesting mains such as Katsu Teri Don and Buta Yaki Spaghetti,
The Classic Bao ($4.80) is a slow braised pork belly (Kong Bak) sandwiched within the traditional white fluffy buns which might look like a safe option, because Kong Bak Pau is one of the local delicacies in Singapore. But it’s also a difficult task for Bao Makers to win the competition. I ordered one anyway, but it failed to excite my palate. I could find much better ones out there in Singapore effortlessly.
Our favourite was the Chilli Crab Bao ($5.80) with fleshy, succulent crab meat and generously splattered with chilli sauce, sandwiched in between the deep fried golden brown bao. This was like a modern reiteration of the original chilli crabs and mantou, rather than serving the buns at the side to dip into the chili crab, the chili crab now comes within the buns.
Deep-fried buns were crisp and free of grease, while the chili crab fillings were not shy of spiciness while coming with streaks of crab meat, contributing much to the luscious factor of the dish. I won’t mind having more fillings or extra serving of chili crab dip at the side where I can dip the deep-fried mantou buns into for extra flavor.
Our second favourite was the Salted Egg Shrimp Bao ($5.80). For this particular dish, they used steamed white mantou which were soft and fluffy, to encase the salted egg prawn fillings inside. The prawns were plump, fresh and crunchy, giving it a twist of flavors to the traditional Bao. We like how it seemed to carry a familiar tzechar flavor and quality to it, even coming with small bits of chili and curry leaves as well.
The last but not the least was the Teriyaki Chicken Bao ($5.30). This looked like more to chicken katsu than teriyaki chicken. The luscious golden fried chicken was leaving a clean crisp texture, with the extra chilli sauce that reminded me of those used in Hainanese chicken rice, that intermittently kicked in and spice up our palate beautifully.
The Mocha ($6) was prepared using coffee beans supplied by Common Man Coffee Roasters, with a medium body. It was good, fragrant and well balanced in terms of sweetness.
We also had the Toro Toro Pudding ($6) which is the silky milk pudding with homemade caramel.
Hopefully, with more cafes that offer something imaginative like Bao Makers opening in Singapore, this would turn into a solid trend and raise the bar for the overall industry here.
78 Horne Road
+65 6291 2330
Opening Hours :
Monday – Friday : 11 am – 9 pm
Saturday : 10 am – 10 pm
Sunday : 10 am – 6 pm