Bao Sandwich Bar is nested in a cozy student neighborhood, just steps from University of Waterloo / Wilfrid Laurier University. I waited for quite some time before visiting as I thought – how could “student food” be any good??
However, we’ve heard many positive reviews about this hidden Bao heaven so we had to try it out. It still felt weird to be in a student residential area though.
Trendy setting with limited seating.
Located in the heartstrings of the Waterloo University District, Bao Sandwich Bar specializes in the popularized concept of Vietnamese sandwiches and Taiwanese steamed buns, known as Bánh mì and Gua Bao.
Bao Sandwich Bar takes on a modern approach to a variety of asian cuisines, focusing on traditional staple foods. Originating in the late 19th century, bánh mì was a product of French colonialism, by bringing together the french baguette with native Vietnamese ingredients. Gua Bao, on the other hand, is Taiwan’s “go to” street food, beloved for its flavours and textures.
On the Table for Maple:
Two combos – one with triple cooked fries, one with “Babe Rolls” (pork spring rolls).
Chicken Katsu Bao ($4.05) – Japanese style fried cutlet with lettuce, cilantro, sweet soy sauce and Bao sauce.
Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside while being squished between buttery soft buns. YUM.
Dynasty Duck ($4.55) – Peking style roast duck with cucumbers and hoisin sauce, garnished with spring onions and fried duck bits.
I would say that the secret to a good Bao filling is the accompanying sauce. Hoisin sauce – a.k.a the secret Chinese sauce to make everything delicious – is a sure winner.
Crackle Belly Bao ($4.05) – Roasted pork belly, deep-fried for a nice crispy texture and topped with Bao sauce.
The fattiness of the pork belly makes this classic Bao a must order.
Fried Nemo ($3.85) – Deep fried Basa fish, with cabbage and Jalepeno cilantro garlic mayo.
In comparison to the other Bao(s), the Fried Nemo paled in both looks and taste. However, extra points for cheeky name. Kids, nemo is a clown fish though – just f.y.i.
The fries and the pork spring rolls felt like after thoughts. I would recommend skipping the combo (two Baos and a side) and get a third Bao instead.
Bao Sandwich Bar has proven that you do not have to drive to Toronto for insanely overrated $10 buns for good food. The majority of their customer base might be students due to proximity, but please do not let your pride / fear of free-spirited young kids get in the way of getting some deliciousness in your tummy.