Bao Bang Bang brings Taiwanese street food to Brussels

Summary

Set up by a cameraman, Bao Bang Bang is the first restaurant of its kind in Brussels and is bringing a taste of Taiwanese street food to the capital

Bringing bao to Brussels

Bao Bang Bang is a real new kid on the block: the eatery dedicated to the bao, an increasingly popular street food dish from Taiwan, is the first of its kind in Brussels.

The creative mind behind it all is Fabrice Nsalambi, a cameraman from Brussels who fell in love with the steamed bun during a shoot in Taiwan. He kept coming across the dish in major cities across the world during his travels. “I tried bao restaurants in Berlin, London, New York, Paris… but Brussels was lagging a bit behind,” he says.

 

After a year of research, cooking courses, business plans and numerous test dinners with friends, there was, much to Nsalambi’s surprise, still no bao place to be seen in the capital.

 

“In Brussels people can be quite hesitant when it comes to new things, and then when a new concept opens, they soon pop up all over the place. But the first one always involves taking quite a risk.” Nsalambi was willing to take that plunge, and so far it seems to have paid off. “On launch day, customers who already knew the product waited in line in front of the restaurant,” he says.

What’s inside

Bao Bang Bang offers numerous varieties of what you could call the Taiwanese take on the sandwich, in all kinds of culinary directions. But the menu also features the classic bao, just as you’ll find it on the streets of its home country: a bun traditionally filled with a slice of pork, a syrupy, sugary soy sauce, cabbage and carrot salad, peanuts and coriander.

But what makes a good bao? “You need several ingredients with a bit of a kick. Each element needs to be perfect on its own but at the same time they all need to work together,” says Nsalambi, who also takes on kitchen duty and perfected his skills learning from Korean and Japanese cooks.

Each element needs to be perfect on its own but at the same time they all need to work together

- Fabrice Nsalambi

“What I like about the bao is that you can be so creative with it and put lots of different things inside,” he says. Accordingly, the menu has something in store for everyone, offering baos with shrimps and avocado, a vegetarian version based on tofu, and much more.

Bao Bang Bang provides not just a great food experience but also a sober yet stylish tiger-themed interior, a nod to the original meaning of the word bao: a tiger biting a pig, referencing the mouth-like form of the bun and its content.

Waterleidingsstraat 155, Elsene

Photo: EmielsKitchen