What: The handmade bao are small and easy to eat. It is easy to eat many pieces of the kong bak bao (80 cents) - like a miniature pulled pork bun - at a go.
An intriguing option is the Boy & Girl Bao ($1.20) - a delicious combination of salted egg yolk and lotus paste that is not too sweet. The stall also sells longevity peach buns (80 cents) filled with lotus paste.
Where: 02-02 Block 127 Toa Payoh Lorong 1, open: Tuesdays to Sundays 6am to 2pm, closed on Mondays
THE BAO MAKERS CAFE & BAKERY
What: Putting a modern spin on the traditional kong bak bao, The Bao Makers offer chilli crab bao and salted egg chicken bao ($5.80 each) in the style of fried mantou. The mantou for salmon mentaiko ($5.80 each) and veggie bao ($4.50) is steamed.
Go for the fried version for added crunch and texture.
Where: 4 Jiak Chuan Road, open: noon to 3pm, 6 to 11pm, Mondays to Saturdays, closed on Sundays
What: The handmade bao have thin and soft skin, even when they are cold. The char siew bao ($1) filling has a good bite and texture, while the tau sar bao ($1) paste is smooth and creamy.
Where: 01-1018 People's Park Food Centre, 32 New Market Road, open: 8am to 9pm, Tuesdays to Sundays, closed on Mondays; closed tomorow to Feb 11
NAM KEE PAU
What: The famous brand from Johor Baru is brought in by the Fei Siong Group, which runs food and beverage chains such as Let's Eat, Encik Tan and the Malaysia Boleh! foodcourts in Singapore.
The Amy Yip Big Pau ($4) is a hefty bun filled with chicken, pork and hard-boiled egg. The skin of the bun is not too thick and remains soft without going too soggy. The steamed bao is named after the voluptuous former Hong Kong actress of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The chain also sells char siew bao (90 cents) and lotus paste bao (80 cents), along with noodle dishes.
Where: Outlets include B4-66 Ion Orchard; B1-K17 Tampines 1; and B1-04 West Mall, various opening hours
What: Dough Magic specialises in handmade buns. There is no filling in their rose-shaped bao (two for $1), but they are probably the most Instagram-worthy ones.
Other buns with no filling include longevity peach buns ($1), pumpkin (two for $1) and brown sugar (two for $1). They are best eaten hot and dipped into chilli crab gravy. These mantou-style buns are available for a limited time during the festive period.
If you prefer buns with filling, try the sour cabbage pork bun ($1), spring onion pork bun ($1), black sesame paste bun ($1.50) and braised pork bun ($1.20).
Where: Outlets include 01-K99B People's Park Complex, 1 Park Road; B2-128 Northpoint City; and Block 763 Jurong West Street 75, various opening hours
Info: Call 6904-9549
What: The old-school dim sum restaurant, which peddles its items in pushcarts, serves probably the biggest of the big baos ($6) and with the most ingredients. There is a mix of chicken and pork, along with salted egg yolk, mushrooms and lup cheong (Chinese sausage) - making for a very tasty combination. It is best to call the restaurant ahead to order.
Where: 07-23 Block 54 Chin Swee Road, open: 7am to 3pm, 6 to 10pm daily, closed till Tuesday
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