My dad’s not an adventurous eater at the best of times – born and raised on a Cantonese and Shanghainese diet for most of his life, the idea of pasta, schnitzel, or salads for meals are completely foreign to him. Wanting to introduce him to new cuisines, but also very conscious that anything too outside of his comfort zone would be treated with trepidation, I eased him into trying Taiwanese food when he was recently in Sydney for my wedding.
We started with Bao Dao’s signature sticky rice, which comes mixed with mince and other goodies, before being finished off with a thick pork sauce and egg on top. Dad missed having his usual Chinese lupcheong sausage with the sticky rice, but enjoyed the sweet and slightly chilli sauce.
He was a big fan of the soft braised pork belly – cooked to the point where the fat just melted in your mouth. He did tell me off for not eating the fat off the pork belly (“It’s the best part, why are you leaving it!”), and happily ate the fatty layer that I discarded on my plate. The soy braising sauce had slight tones of aniseed which I enjoyed along with the crisp bokchoy that helped to soak up some of the sauce.
The pork belly bun was a big hit with our group – sandwiched with a soft white steamed bun, chunks of the soft braised pork belly was served with sour pickles, fresh herby coriander, and crunchy peanut shards – a perfect example of textured eating. We ordered two to share between four, but I could have easily eaten one by myself!
Dad’s not big on vegetables (he’s a big meat eater), but I am! I ordered the steamed Asian greens in an attempt to eat slightly healthier than we had been in recent days, and enjoyed the still slightly crunchy fresh veggies (I prefer my Asian greens slightly undercooked!) in the sweet soy sauce.
The beef noodle soup was a hit with our group as well. While I found the noodles themselves a bit soft (I prefer them slightly al dente), Dad liked how the softness made it a lot easier to slurp up the noodles from the rich beefy soup. You get a healthy serving of noodles here as well, though not as much beef tendon as you might get elsewhere.
The pork dumplings came out a lot later than all the other dishes – probably five minutes after all the rest had been delivered in the space of three minutes. I can only assume that they were wrapping the dumplings on order rather than using pre-wrapped dumplings, resulting in a later delivery to the table. With a firm pork filling, these dumplings helped to round off a hearty and homely meal.
Dad was a big fan of Bao Dao, and it really served as an excellent way of introducing him to other cuisines that aren’t too dissimilar from what he’s used to. I think we’ll be visiting more Taiwanese restaurants in the near future to sample other dishes, and Bao Dao will definitely be on our regular re-visit list!