Restaurant: Mean Bao
Location: 275 Dundas Street West, Suite 19, Toronto, ON M5T 3K1
Price Range: $
I didn’t realize that my last review was also a food court restaurant LOL I’m on a roll! Mean Bao is hidden under OCAD university’s food court (they just recently switched from being a college to university lol), and it is opposite from Manpuku restaurant. This location is the original one and Mean Bao now have another location just opened on Bathurst Street. While I can’t comment on the service at the second location, but it seems the owner is always at the OCAD’s location and I found the service to be ok. It’s the typical service you would get at a food court restaurant, minus the yelling of course.
Their menu is quite small and Mean Bao have a few options for vegetarian. I ordered the hot quinoa box before (not pictured here) and I didn’t really enjoyed the quinoa, but I remember the spicy BBQ chicken was delicious!
I ordered the sticky quinoa (another healthy option) and wow, it was quite a generous portion for just $8! To be honest it was quite awkward trying to open the lotus leaf in the tiny and narrow take out box, so it would have been better if they served this in a bigger box.
When my order came, the lotus leaf was already opened with the egg and chicken on top, so I wasn’t sure if they actually steamed the quinoa with those 2 components? I quite enjoyed the texture of the sticky quinoa, however I found the flavor of the lap cheong was not apparent in the dish. Which resulted in a sticky quinoa that didn’t have the sweet sausage (lap cheong) and salty seasonings that you would normal find in a lo mai gai. Also, the smell of the lotus leaf was quite strong that it lingered? I hope that make sense, because the leaf should only add a subtle fragrance to the dish. Also, my vegetables were slightly undercooked :(… I think this is an interesting take on a classic sticky rice in lotus leaf, however I prefer the latter more.
The sloppy jones consisted of ground pork simmered in ketchup and I believe some kind of chili oil. The bao had good flavor with a balance between salty and spiciness, and it wasn’t greasy as well. My friend’s bao hold up well while eating, but mine was the total opposite and it was really messy to eat this bao :(.
The pulled pork came with apple slaw and was dressed with cilantro, and crushed peanuts. The baos were warm and wonderfully soft, slightly sweet and practically melted in your mouth. Although the pulled pork was tender and juicy, it tasted just like any other pulled pork that I have had. The slaws were good and brought down the richness of the pulled pork, and the Sriracha amped up the spice level. The bao was good, but to me it was nothing special so if you are looking for something different, get other baos.
Initially I wanted the siu mai and other dumplings but they were all sold out. The owner told me they make the dim sum fresh everyday, and he only had the pork & shrimp dumplings left on the day I went. For $4, the dumplings were at the right size, had loads of shrimps inside and I really enjoyed them! The skin was translucent yet study, slightly chewy with perfectly cooked fillings inside.
Overall I found Mean Bao is great for a quick and affordable meal. I found the food to be inconsistent at times, as the baos can sometimes be really soft, yet it can fall apart easily on another day. I also found the price is excellent for the portion and each bao had a good ratio of meat to vegetables, especially when you compare it to Banh Mi Boys or Momofuku.