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Bao Down: Bao Stop returns to Canberra

Beatrice Smith

It started with a mouthful.

On a trip to the US, Matty Forwood stumbled across the little parcels that changed his life. It was saucy, tangy and totally delicious. Matty had discovered bao.

Originating in Taiwan and China as a street food, gua bao is traditionally made with a filling of meat topped with fresh herbs. It’s been around for hundreds of years as a simple street food, almost like an Asian version of a soft taco, but they’re becoming increasingly present on Western menus.

“It was just so good,” says Matty. “Some time later I realised there was no one doing anything like it in Sydney so I decided to learn.”

The main features of the bun are its fluffy consistency and smooth, matte outside. Inside, it’s a different story. Meat and fresh vegetables are slathered in glossy sauce and topped with fresh, sharp herbs that cut through the richness.

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Image: instagram.com/sweetandyummie

Despite the skill involved in both the creation of the bun and fillings, Matty is self-taught and has a way of mixing flavours and spices together to create unique tastes.

“I watched YouTube and used Google Translate to learn how to cook the bao, and came up with some new flavours as my take on some traditional options,” he explains.

Bao Stop became a reality when Matty and his best friend Matt Hryniuk decided to submit an application for the Sydney Night Noodle Markets, one of the biggest street food celebrations in Australia with hundreds of thousands of attendees every year.

“Matt has always been involved in deejaying and music and wanted something a little different to get involved in,” explains Matty.

When Matty and Matt’s application for the Noodle Markets was accepted, they had to figure out a way to satisfy the orders of hundreds of potential customers – despite having never worked in a commercial kitchen.

“We started at that Sydney Night Noodle Markets in 2014 with our friends and family helping out in a 3x3m stall,” says Matty.

Matt (left) and Matty (right)

Matt (left) and Matty (right)

Fast forward almost three years and Bao Stop now have a dedicated team and a large mobile set-up, ready to travel to street food festivals around Australia at the drop of a hat and have sold bao in Canberra, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

Bao Stop’s first appearance in Canberra was earlier this year at the 2016 Enlighten Night Noodle Markets, which was successful, to say the least.

“Enlighten was the largest festival we have ever done at that point!” says Matty. “It was exciting, with great feedback from all the customers.”

It’s pretty clear from the amount of Bao Stop geotags in Canberra that we were receptive, so Bao Stop knew they wanted to come back for more.

“We have many customers that follow us to all our festivals to enjoy our food and excitedly await the next location announcement.”

The Commons will be Canberra’s biggest street food festival to date, stretching over 10 days in Commonwealth Park by the lake from tonight 9 December until Sunday 18 December and Bao Stop will be there for the entire 10 days.

WHAT WE’RE EXCITED TO EAT AT BAO STOP

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Image: instagram.com/biggiedoes

PEKING DUCK FRIES

Yep, you read it correctly. A fan favourite at Enlighten, these decadent, saucy fries are back for another week. Crispy golden fries topped with shredded peking duck, smothered in Bao Stop’s peking sauce and finished with spring onion. Need we say more?

FRIED CHICKEN GUA BAO

Street style fried chicken with fresh shredded spring onion and crunchy carrot on top with their signature chilli mayo sauce. Divine and with a killer crunch.

BRAISED PORK BELLY GUA BAO

Topped with Bao Stop’s hoisin sauce and a generous helping of coriander, pickled greens, Taiwanese mayo and roasted peanuts. Two serves please.

PEKING DUCK GUA BAO 

Marrying the punchy flavour of the Peking Duck fries with smooth, spongy gua bao, Peking Duck bao comes smothered in sauce with a topping of fresh, crunchy cucumber and spring onion. 

For $20 you can try one of each gua bao flavour in their Bao Trifecta. 

the essentials

What: Bao Stop
Where: The Commons Street Food Feast in Commonwealth Park
When: Find them from today, Friday 9 December until Sunday 18 December. Click here for full opening times
Instagram: instagram.com/baostopsydney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/baostopsydney

This is a sponsored editorial. For more information on sponsored editorial, click here

Feature image: instagram.com/biggiedoes

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author