'Toronto' It's a Bao Time

It's a Bao Time is more than a clever pun, it's also where locals in York Region go for handmade bao, bahn mi, and other Asian-inspired bite-sized goodness. Occupying part of a space that was formerly Go for Tea, the dining room is spacious, bright, and cheerful.

its a bao time
On one end, there's a hand-painted mural and on the other, a blackboard filled with random guest scribbles, doodles and flavour suggestions.

its a bao time
I start with the Popcorn Chicken ($5). Reminiscent of similarly-named dishes found in Taiwanese restaurants, It's a Bao Time's version has a light spicy kick that I really like. Served with a side of peri-peri spicy mayonnaise, it's simply excellent.

its a bao time
The Bulgogi Kimchi Fries ($6) are also something special. Tender marinated bulgogi beef, lightly drizzled with sweet mayonnaise, rest beautifully on a bed of kimchi-infused fries. The harmony of taste and texture in the dish is immensely satisfying.

Getting to work on the bao, I order four different kinds. The Pork Belly Bao and Japanese Fried Chicken Bao ($4.69 each) are both up my alley. The fattiness of the roasted pork belly, and the juiciness of the crispy fried chicken, both pair nicely with the steamed bao.

its a bao time
Perhaps more unconventional is the Grilled Jerk Chicken Bao ($4.69). While some parts are a little too charred for my personal liking, I love the pronounced flavour of the jerk seasoning.

My personal favourite is the Battered Fish Bao ($4.99). Served with creamy coleslaw, the fish is fried beautifully, with a black pepper-encrusted batter that is simply perfect.

its a bao time
Beyond bao I try the Duck Confit Taco ($4.99) and the Korean Beef Bulgogi Banh Mi ($6.89). Though parts of that sandwich are a bit dry, the duck confit is well-seasoned and comes to life with the generous helping of sweet hoisin mayo.

its a bao time
The banh mi is by far the most substantial item on the menu, and the bulgogi is just as tender and beautifully sweet-savoury as the one found in the fries. The side of crispy Taro Chips ($3), lightly seasoned with Chinese five-spice and citrus zest, puts a satisfying exclamation mark on the meal.

its a bao time
To drink, a selection of Taiwanese bottled teas and Mexican flavoured soda pop ($3 each) are available.

its a bao time
For dessert, make sure to try the Nutella Bao ($3), a product of a customer suggestion from the blackboard wall. This fried bao dressed to the nines with Nutella and condensed milk and topped with icing sugar is a must-order.

its a bao time
Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo. When not writing for blogTO he can usually be found tweeting here or pressing words into this blog. Photos by Hector Vasquez.


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