Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包) - Taiwanese Steamed Bun with Braised Pork - Food-Spotter
Bao this, Bao that, it’s seems all the rage in London with these cute tiny little steamd bun places appearing here and there. Some with a notoriously long waiting queue. But let me take you away from the regular culinary affairs of London and take you to the source…
藍家割包 also known as Lan Jia Gua Bao
Just a short stroll from where I use to live in Taipei, is a very renowned Bao place. Incase the words are all starting to confuse you, a Bao is a Taiwanese steamed bun comparable to a burger bun but more light and fluffy in texture. Gua refers to the braised pork. This is usually served up with crushed peanuts and pickled mustard greens.
“So it’s just a Taiwanese burger?”
In simple terms yes, but in reality it’s a little more clever in the flavours and textures in my opinion. If you think back to Mos Burger’s rendition which uses a slab of chicken and lettuce for crunch, the actual Gua Bao has the total opposite of textures. It’s based more around being soft in general with the crushed peanuts focusing more on giving a lighter sweet flavour aganst the savoury braised pork and pickled veg.
“This bao doesn’t look small and cute like the one’s i’ve had in my city”
Correct, and thank the almighty for that. These Bao’s are a good size, like a large burger bun, with a more than generous serving of pork inside – 2 of these will fill you up!
The pork can be customised to your preference – you have a choice of just the lean pork, just the fatty pork, or a mix of both. My personal preference was towards the fatty pork as it is just so soft and succulent. The pork is rich in flavour and the portion is very generous.
It’s very easy to see why this is considered the gold standard of Gua Bao in Taipei!
“Is it just a street food cart?”
Although most people are queung for a takeaway from the cart outside the shop, they actually have a few more options on the menu which revolve around some hearty soups, including a version of mee sua. One of my favourites is the Sweetcorn with Pork Ribs. It’s light in flavour but feels wholesome and warming on a cold wet taipei evening.
Service is minimal, but it’s not a fancy place. You tick your order on the small piece of paper which has the menu printed in chinese (Google Image Translate can be handy here) and then hand over to the stressed/mean looking lady at the counter. Then a few short minutes later, someone will bring the order to your table. Ta Da!
A Gua Bao will set you back 50 NTD (approx 1.30 GBP / 1.70 USD).
No. 3, Alley 8, Lane 316, Section 3,
Taipei City, Taiwan
Closest Train Station: Gongguan