Was I feeling lucky…? Which of the places on my ‘to eat at’ list should I choose after a couple of years of not eating out? I love Asian cuisine and had heard some great stuff about Lucky Bao so decided to give it a try for lunch. Turns out I made a good choice.
So before I go on, I’ll be really up front and say I had no idea what a ‘Bao’ was. This from someone who considers herself quite knowledgeable on the subject of food. Oh the shame! In all seriousness though, I can now share with you that a Bao is in fact a type of steamed, filled bun or bread-like item (thank you Wikipedia). With yummy stuff in it (clearly not Wikipedia).
So of course I was in – a new food item I hadn’t tried before with tasty Asian ingredients? Plus my recent food obsessions have included ingredients like Kim Chi and Miso Paste, and their menu features a blend of Asian influences including these. Tick!
We arrived and received a warm, friendly greeting from a waiter (always a good start) and took a seat to peruse the menu. Only to realise I was sitting next to a friend who had dined there before. She gave us a few of her recommendations which we ordered (see below), and explained that Lucky Bao had actually started at Miami Marketta, a funky little food market in Miami I’ve been to once and is also on my list.
I loved the fitout which had the modern, clean lines vibe with open spaces that a lot of cafes and restaurants are favouring of late. Also my friend told me if you bring kids along they give them a little Kewpie doll and some colouring in things, which is a nice touch.
As it was a lunch date, I didn’t order from the drinks list which is a pity because it looks great. Featuring some tasty sounding cocktails, interesting sodas (Thyme & Ginger or Apple Cream caught my fancy), a variety of wine styles from different regions and countries, and of course Sake, Whisky and Shochu. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.
So what did we actually order? (rather than continuing to tantalise you with things I didn’t have… bad food blogger!) We decided to share so we could taste each:
Up first – Puffed Sesame Rice Cracker, Raw Ocean Trout, Togarashi, Avocado, Chives, Wasabi ($8 each). Our waiter explained that there was no Trout available so this was being substituted for Kingfish. This tasted a bit like a Ceviche, with the addition of the contrast of the crunchy cracker base. As you can see the presentation is sharp, with a nice contrast of textures between the soft, sweet, fish and crispy cracker base. I really liked this dish. Didn’t see or taste any chives but still tasty.
“Crack fries” Taro, Kewpie Mayonnaise, Sriracha, Spring Onion ($10). OK I am a BIG fan of any fries that make promises like this. One of my favourites is from the Good Wolf at Miami (features buffalo sauce, ranch dressing and parmesan, makes my mouth water just writing that). These fries were home made, and the mayo and chilli (Sriracha) tasted great together.
Of course we had to try the ubiquitous Bao, and for lunch you’ll score two for $15. From the tasty sounding selection, we chose:
Tempura soft shell crab, Asian slaw, Wasabi mayonnaise. This was a crispy, crunchy, sweet, salty, creamy yummy filling. The Bao itself is like a little thick pancake, very white and soft. I’d have this one again, and
Braised beef cheek, carrot and daikon pickle, crushed peanut, coriander. The first bite of this Bao was lacking in flavour a little but with the second bite I realised I missed the sauce on the beef. I loved the sour pickle with the coriander, and soft, tender beef. We both felt a little spike of chilli would go really well with this dish – just a few fine slices of fresh red chilli (although we acknowledge a lot of people out there are chilli phobics).
After sharing these we both still hankered for something else. The dessert selection looks amazeballs, so I’d love to go back there to leave room to try a sweet (top of my list is Black sesame cheesecake, butternut crumble, Yuzu curd, black sesame ice cream [$15]).
But the specials board caught my eye, so we decided to finish our meal with: Spicy tempura eggplant, kimchi, shiso, mayo ($9). This was sweet, slightly spicy and crunchy, and a winner. I’m a big fan of miso as I said earlier, and combining it with eggplant is one of my current favourite flavour combos. Plus for anyone that doesn’t know, Kim Chi is the bomb! (it’s Korean Chilli Pickled Cabbage… if you’re screwing up your nose right now, just trust me or check out my review on Korean Charcoal BBQ, still one of our old favourites).
So as you can tell (if you’ve stuck with me through this rather long review) we really enjoyed our experience with Lucky Bao. Good ambience, great food and service. Our only niggle was after leaving we could both taste Kewpie Mayonnaise. And yes, Kewpie is delicious, but there was too much of it for us this time. Solution – don’t order so much with mayo on it next time – easy!
6/90 Markeri Street, Mermaid Waters
07 5679 6517