Bao buns are one of my absolute favourite foods, and when offered I jumped at the chance of learning how to make them with Aiyo…
Tucked away in Hyde Park, Aiyo was set up by the same people behind Little Bao Boy, who have been making waves across the Street Food scene in Leeds and the North with their new take on Asian food. Founder James Ooi puts a contemporary twist on the traditional recipes of his Grandma, cooking fresh and flavoursome food. Aiyo has a simple menu offering a mix of bao burgers, rice bowls and delicious sides for meateaters and vegans alike.
When I was talking to friends about the event, and that I was excited to make my own Bao buns, lots of people were unsure as to what they are (cue me sending the same Google images screenshot a million times!). A bao bun is a steamed Chinese bread roll that can be filled with almost anything, meat or veggies. I first tried them a few years ago at the British Street Food Awards and have craved them ever since.
I’ve always wanted to learn how to create these delicious treats for myself and the technique for making Bao buns is surprisingly easy (or the bit we did anyway)! We weighed, shaped and rolled the dough, to create little pockets like you see above, that can be stuffed with food. It was so much fun to do and James was such a good teacher! From here the Bao buns were cooked in a bamboo steamer (need to buy one), taking about ten minutes until they had risen and turned into the little fluffy pockets I love so much!
To fill our bao, we were invited to try some of the dishes on offer including Sichuanese aubergines, Cauliflower Satay and Salt and Pepper Fries. Being a bit of a child when it comes to certain vegetables I’m not all that keen (read: I detest) cauliflower, but slathered in satay sauce with ginger and coriander it was delicious, so much so that I even had a second helping. The Salt and Pepper fries were an absolute game changer too (where has Sriracha mayo been all of my life?!). These are the perfect snack and I even cheekily filled a bao with these fries, to create an Asian inspired chip butty, which was ah-mah-zing!
Everything was prepared from scratch and tasted so fresh, I’d try and argue that it was healthy too (apart from the fries!). Aiyo is also the first place in Leeds that I’ve spotted congee on the menu. Congee is a rice porridge, and Aiyo serve it up with Shiitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic and chilli. I’d really love to go back to try the Koran Fried Chicken Bao Burger at some point as well.
The atmosphere of the restaurant is really good, it’s quite an intimate venue with only three or so tables – don’t worry though you can get your food to go or order through Deliveroo. Adorning one wall is a mural of a dragon, created by local artist Mike Winnard, it instantly draws the eye with vivid blues and purples. The rest of the space is a mix of pastel pink walls and green tiles, with vibrant red chairs and hip wooden tables to dine at.
At the end of the event we were presented with a little goody bag, including a recipe and special flour for making our own bao buns at home. I have also since corrected the error of my ways and bought Hoisin sauce and Sriracha mayo. Look out for my future attempts at making these delicious treats either on my Instagram or here – if it goes wrong though I know where I can find this delicious food in Leeds!
Aiyo can be found at 75 Brudenell Grove in Hyde Park, Leeds and opens 5-10:30pm Wednesday and Thursday and 12-10:30pm Friday to Sunday. Little Bao Boy pops up across the region at Street food events.
I was invited to attend a bloggers’ event in return for writing a post, as ever all the words and opinions are my own.