Mr Baoz serves variations on the theme of the traditional Chinese pork bun or baozi (包子). The variations are staggering in number and in some cases in conception as well. Who would have imagined a Chinese steamed bun with a strawberry chocolate or an onion and cheese topping? Mr Baoz also goes out of its way to make these buns colorful, so you get the full force of strawberry pink, and yellow cheese is on display even before you take a bite. The effect may be quite off-putting to some, but rest assured that these colorful buns taste better than they look — and to the small children interviewed, they looked pretty good.
Adults who have passed the stage of being enraptured by multicolored food may feel differently, but the buns are cheap, starting at NT$20 for something simple like a steamer butter bun (蒸籠奶黃包), and topping out NT$35 for exotic concoctions such as squid roll buns (墨魚三星卷) or the sweet and sour fish bun (糖醋鮮魚包). Sets of six or a dozen buns are sold at a discount.
The outlet on Guangfu South Road, opposite the Songshan Tobacco Factory (松山菸廠), opened late last year and is the most recent addition to a chain that has stores in Shipai (石牌), on the corner of Tunghua Street (通化街) and on Siping Street (四平街). This outlet itself is remarkably uninspired, having even less charm that a Mr Donut, but the buns themselves are worth a try. They may not, as the takeout menu suggests, “change your lifestyle,” but if you like steamed buns and exotic flavors, you can have quite a lot of fun picking through the 30 or so choices available, or grossing out friends by trying to feed them spicy pork gut or cinnamon pork buns. The Snowflake Series, with taro, peanut, sesame and red bean buns topped with desiccated coconut also looks remarkably revolting, but then, there are people in this world who think Lamington cakes are delicious.
Address: 102 Guangfu South Rd, Taipei City (台北市光復南路102號)
Telephone: (02) 2771-5198
Open: 10am to 9pm
Average meal: NT$30
Details: Chinese and English menu; various payment methods available for delivery
On the Net: www.mrbaoz.com.tw
Personally, this reviewer preferred the aesthetic to the gastronomic aspect of Mr Baoz, finding the buns too soft in the mouth and the flavors somewhat artificial. A short spell in a steamer helps a little, but fundamentally this is food to play with rather than to eat.
Mr Baoz has a flourishing takeout business, and orders can be placed by phone for either hot or frozen delivery. A full menu is also available on the Internet.