Cheap & Good

Fun buns from Just Dough at Suntec City

The purple sweet potato bun has skin that is green and black from green tea and bamboo charcoal. Chicken Satay (above) with chunky pieces of meat and gravy topped with grated pineapple. Tender and flavourful Daging Panggang Sambal Hijau (left).
The purple sweet potato bun has skin that is green and black from green tea and bamboo charcoal.ST PHOTO: YIP WAI YEE

Some food items are just made for Instagram.

It sounds unlikely that Chinese steamed buns would fall into this category, but the ones from Just Dough at Suntec City fit the bill: Bright and colourful, they will help pop any dull Instagram feed, no matter what angle you use to take the photos.

These, as you may have gathered, are not your average buns.

Besides their multi-coloured skins, they come in a wide range of innovative flavours - such as cheesy chicken mushroom and banana chocolate - that you would not find in traditional bao shops.

The buns here taste as good as they look too, which is saying a lot, when so many Instagram food fads compromise heavily on flavour with gimmicky designs and unnecessary add-ons.

According to Mr Vincent Koh, 39, who founded Just Dough, the colouring comes from natural ingredients, such as fruit and vegetable juices.


    B1-169 Suntec City, 3 Temasek Boulevard; open: 7.30am to 10pm on weekdays, 8.30am to 10pm on weekends

    Rating: 3.5/5 stars

On the racks, each type of bun comes with clear labels of what the skin colouring is made of. The cheesy chicken mushroom bun ($2.60), for example, is encased in a bright yellow skin infused with carrot juice. One of the most popular items at the store is the purple sweet potato bun ($1.90), with skin that is green and black from green tea and bamboo charcoal. Almost everyone in the queue has one on his tray.

You can enjoy one on the spot - a staff member will bring you a hot bun from the on-site steamer. Or you can pack it in a bag to eat at home, as long as you steam it for 10 minutes first. I choose to have mine at home and the plump shape of the palm-sized bun is still intact hours after I buy it. As soon as I slice it open, I cannot help but marvel at the three distinct layers of green, black and deep purple.

The bread is soft and fluffy, but as it tends to get chewy when it cools, it should be eaten as soon as it is out of the steamer. The generous filling is not overly sweet either, which I like.

Later, I have a taste of the curry chicken potato bun ($2.60), which has a red skin from chillies. The bun is bursting with so much potato that I feel stuffed just halfway through eating it.

Other buns offered at the store include shredded coconut bun, durian bun and wolfberry mantou ($1.90 each) - all of which I am eager to try on my next visit.

Patrons who choose to dine in at the eatery can opt to have hot soup (chilli crab, $7.90; or pumpkin, $5.90) paired with a plain steamed bun or have a bun toasted and served with kaya.

So it looks like I have a number of quick lunch options rolled out for me in the weeks to come - and plenty of potential Instagram "likes".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 26, 2017, with the headline 'Fun buns'. Print Edition | Subscribe