BAO by Dead Famous is making serious waves as one of Belfast’s newest street food offerings.
Situated in the bustling area of Botanic, BAO has brought something truly unique to Belfast.
Offering a twist on traditional Taiwanese street food meets Asian fusion, anyone who enjoys food packed with a delicious punch of flavour in a relaxed and quirky environment will absolutely love BAO by Dead Famous - which is available both as a sit-in meal or takeaway.
Fans of Boojum, Chalcos and Bubbacue will recognise the ordering process, which is a familiar five step process assembly-style line.
But instead of chosing a wrap or bowl we just need to decide if we want our bao steamed or toasted.
The newest guys on the block make every ingredient on site, even pickling and fermenting all their own toppings, mixing their own sauces, and all meats are cooked in-house.
In fact, the gua bao buns are hand crafted and steamed freshly to order each day.
For the uninitiated, the bao is a steamed, flavourful bread that is light, spongey, delicious and great for sticking assorted meat and other lovely stuff in! Choose between hacked chicken, braised pork, 16-hour beef brisket or flat iron tofu.
Next we have the tantalising sauces, which range from Hoisin aioli, Korean BBQ, Sichaun mayo, pork sauce, garlic aioli and coriander and lime.
Finally, the pickles and garnishes truly are the icing on the bao, so to speak.
Tastes of Asian fusion cuisine are abundant with the delicious scatterings of sesame seeds, crushed nuts, crispy shallots, Cilantro or shredded lettuce atop a bursting bao.
For research purposes, myself and my husband happily relished munching through (most of) the menu. After biting into our first bite of steamed bao filled with 16 Hour Beef Brisket and lashings of fresh pickles including Asian Raw Slaw garnished with a generous sprinkling of Sesame Seeds (£5.95), it’s safe to say we were hooked.
We demolished our second equally mouth-watering bao, which was steamed before being loaded with succulent Chicken, Pickled Cucumber, Fermented Kimchi and Crushed Nuts - to name just a few. Anyone who has reservations about ordering chicken in a restaurant for fear it might be ‘too dry’ needs to try the offerings at BAO.
Next we moved onto the Dressed Fries (£3.95). This hearty portion boasts ‘everything you could ever dream of when you are starving’ my husband enthused. And he hit the nail on the head. Boasting fries, filling, sauce and pickles all to suit your own individual tastebuds. We had this with pork - a must-try.
Not being vegetarian, we generally steer clear of Tofu. But I would readily recommend the Flat Iron Tofu to anyone in a heartbeat, which came in a box of yumminess boasting Asian Raw Slaw, Rice Vinegar Pickled Cucumber, Fermented Kimchi, Ponzu Pickled Chili and seasonal pickles on a bed of rice.
We finished with the superb Sweet Bao (£3.95) - similar to a donut in texture and taste this was a tantalising assortment of cinammon, Nutella. ice-cream, nuts and fried goodness. A good option to keep any youngsters busy long enough for you to enjoy your meal - or you can enjoy as a tasty treat for yourself. Be warned though, this is dangerously good!
There’s loads more to choose from with a jam-packed menu full of quirky delights and a budget-friendly Bao Box even offers the choice of one bao plus side and drink for £10.
Whilst naturally it has proved a big hit with students, General Manager Christian Campbell explained it has been a huge hit with office workers at lunchtime, and draws in huge queues throughout the evening: “Luckily the queues move quickly though!
“That’s the great thing about having such a quick ordering process, especially when people are out for their lunch,” Christian added.
“We’re all about being different and having that relaxed vibe. We have that bit of edge!
“We offer Deliveroo, which really helped get our name out there when we first opened in December. It’s done so well we hope to open a second shop soon!
“The inspiration behind BAO came from the ongoing craze of the general public’s love for street food inspired eateries.
“We developed the food concept based around traditional Taiwanese style BAO buns. We make them a lot bigger than a traditional BAO bun so that it can be enjoyed as a meal in itself, instead of being just a light snack.
“Our chef is an incredibly talented individual who has gained a wealth of knowledge through his years of Michelin star fine dining kitchen experience. He gained most of his inspiration for Taiwanese street food through research and travelling. He combines traditional spices and ingredients to create our unique flavours. His idea was that nothing should ever taste the same, everything should be unique within its own right. His ability to combine colour with exciting tastes and textures is what makes our menu options so unique. We chose to open in Botanic because it celebrates food cultures from all over.”
BAO by Dead Famous also offers outside catering, and Christian added they are always keen to work with new businesses.
“We offer 20% off the first order and 10% off for returning customers, and whatever your budget we’re always keen to make things work with you.
“The outside catering is doing so well, it’s so adaptable to whatever you are look for, whether it’s for a wedding, private function or outside party.”
For more information visit BAO by Dead Famous online at: deadfamous.ie.
You can also check out the guys at BAO on Facebook here.