Taking over the former space of Windowsill Pies which had recently moved out to Upper Thomson previously situated at Horne Road, Bao Makers is the latest café that joins the league of cafes that is situated at Jalan Besar alongside neighbours Two Bakers and The Bravery.
Having re-renovated the entire space, Bao Makers has ditched the previous “in the woods” décor theme, adopting one that is slightly more minimalist with white wall panels, unfinished cemented walls and furniture with wooden accents. The specialties here, as the name of the café suggests, are their fusion “bao” concepts revolving around Mantou buns with various fillings such as the Bulgogi and Chili Crab Bao. Simple mains are also available here, such as the Teriyaki Chicken Chop and the Fish & Chips.
(Salted Egg Prawn Bao)
We decided to share the Salted Egg Prawn Bao; each bao comes in a set of two with garden salad at the side. For the this particular dish, they have used steamed white mantou buns to encase the salted egg prawn fillings inside. Salted Egg Prawns were plump but a tad old in texture, though we did particularly 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. Buns were soft and fluffy, and does not absorb the gravy of the salted egg excessively. One thing in this dish that was not particularly to my liking was that the garden salad seemed to lack dressing; something that I was not expecting for a dish that costs $15.00.
(Chili Crab Bao)
Chili Crab Bao comes slightly different from the Salted Egg Prawn Bao; instead of coming with two steamed mantou bun, the Chili Crab is an ode to the local favourite which usually comes served with deep-fried golden-brown mantou buns. This was really much like a modern reiteration of the original; 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 shiok factor of the dish. If you cannot get enough of the chili crab, this dish comes with an extra serving of chili crab dip at the side where you can dip the deep-fried mantou buns into for extra flavor. Again, the garden salad suffers from the same problem, lacks dressing and definitely not expected of a $16.00 dish.
Using the 22 Martin blend from Common Man Coffee Roasters, expect a medium-bodied cuppa with nutty flavours for the Flat White brewed here; good for the early morning perk-me-up.
Bao Makers have done a good job with their infusion of local dishes and bao concept; something that is definitely refreshing for the café 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. One drawback here however is the price and portion size; its rather pricey given its current price point, and the portion size does seem to be on the smaller side perhaps due to the use of better quality ingredients. Still, this is definitely a spot that you should check out at least once just to find out what they are about, and to give their unique concept a try.
78 Horne Road