What attracted me to this unassuming shopfront was the fact that they’re pretty much a one-product affair. Beyond Bánh Mi Xiu Mai ($7) – a spicy, garlicky Vietnamese take on Chinese beef balls served with a crisp Vietnamese bread roll for dipping – this shop makes Vietnamese bánh bao or steamed buns.
There’s only one small table inside this utilitarian shopfront, dominated by a large, silver steamer. Inside its glass-fronted window dripping with water you can see orderly rows of chicken, sausage, vegetable and sweet buns, as well as the Vietnamese pork bun version made with mince.
I’m a sucker for the Chinese version of this dish - char siu bao – stuffed with rich, red barbequed roast pork, which you will find on their menu as Bánh Bao Xa Xiu ($5.50/4) or BBQ pork buns. They’re freshly steamed and super-fluffy, generous buns.
When you tear open their cracked tops you’ll find a tightly packed deep red mixture that could almost have you thinking it’s red bean. It’s actually rich, fragrant and thick with BBQ pork. If you’re keen to make filled bao at home, they’re also serving snowy white Plain Buns ($3.50/each). Buns are loaded into Styrofoam trays and wrapped with cling wrap that’s torn to allow the steam to escape. If you cool them for half an hour when you get home, they’re perfectly fine to freeze and reheat.
Henry Steam Buns
3/17 Canley Vale Rd, Canley Vale
Ph: (02) 8764 6038