Slow Head Boy’s eye-catching pink stall is easy to spot among the masses at Saturday’s Kings Cross Market. The branding is on point – though with proprietor James Lam and his wife Karen both having had careers in branding and advertising, you’d expect as much. The pair, who hail from Hong Kong, are hoping to popularise the Northern Chinese deep fried mantou, by giving them a bit of a contemporary fusion twist.
In Hong Kong you’d most likely find the soft, golden fried buns served with a generous amount of condensed milk. At Slow Head Boy – which is a literal translation of the Cantonese mantou (man meaning slow, tou meaning head) –they’ve meddled with the traditional mantou to make them crunchier on the outside and fluffier inside.
This is because they’re cutting into them and stuffing them with a range of fillings designed to appeal to an Australian audience.
For those who like to market early in the day, the Brekkie Bao ($12/2) is stuffed with bacon and egg mixed with a very accessible wasabi mayo. and garnished with pork floss and a crispy pancetta - think of it as a creamy egg sandwich. We try it presented in one of their pretty, branded paper-lined, shiny holographic boxes with the Magic Mushroom Bao ($10/2). This one takes garlic mushrooms and teams them with lemon thyme under a crisp Romano tuile.
Cheese is also the order of the day in the Smoky Cheese Bao ($10/2 pieces), a blend of mozzarella, Romano, black vintage Cheddar and Jarlsberg, finished off with a traditional Hong Kong touch – condensed milk – before being blow-torched for that smoky flavour. It’s the first bao they created, and definitely worth a try, though my favourite proved to be the Spicy Dog Bao ($12/2) for the great tasting cheese kransky.
James has lifted the good quality pork sausage with a gentle Sichuan pepper barbeque sauce, pickled cucumber and sesame seeds. The only thing that’s missing in my eyes is chilli. Cooking on a camp stove arrangement where super high temperature is hard to maintain, means a fair bit of oil absorbs into the steamed buns. Chilli would be the perfect way to counter that and aid digestion.
If you’re keen to give these snack-sized mantou a whirl, beyond this Saturday market, you can also find the Slow Head Boy team at Kirribilli’s Sunday market. If all goes well, James and Karen hope to be busting out their contemporary mantou in permanent, café-style digs soon!
Slow Head Boy
Kings Cross Market
Fitzroy Gardens, Macleay Street, Kings Cross
Ph: None provided