This cute play on words is located in the food court at Village by the Grange, a popular lunch location. Mean Bao also means quite literally “bread” in Cantonese, and this location is known for their steamed buns, or bao.
Location: Village by the Grange
275 Dundas Street W, #19
Hours: Monday to Tuesday: 11am to 7pm
Wednesday to Friday: 11am to 8pm
Saturday: 11am to 5pm
Atmosphere: Food court
Service: Friendly but slow during off-peak
We actually went around 5pm for a snack, and decided to split 3 baos. We chose the pork belly, spicy chicken BBQ, and the curried cuttlefish. Likely it was due to it being right before closing, but there was only one person manning the cash and the kitchen, and it took awhile (about 15 minutes) to get our order. The gentleman on duty was friendly and we didn’t mind waiting a bit for the food, which was cooked to order. The pork belly and chicken ones were ready first, and they came together in a cardboard box with their logo on top. The cuttlefish one came a few minutes later, and was wrapped in wax paper, unlike the other two.
All the baos comes with pickled carrots and radish, red pepper, cucumber, cilantro and crumbled peanuts. The bun itself was soft and pillowy, and held up well while eating. When I first saw photos of this place, the baos looked like the corners were cut off – I’m glad to say they are not any longer, which I personally felt would have made the corners have an unpleasant crust.
The pork belly and the chicken both had good flavours. As I’m not a huge pork belly fan, I definitely preferred the meatiness of the chicken, as the pork belly was nearly 75% fat. The meat for both was tender enough to fall apart with the soft bun, but there were a couple of tendons in the chicken that made it a bit harder to chew through. Overall I would get both again, and I would try the other meats as well.
The curried cuttlefish was another story. I should probably state that I’m overall not a seafood person, so I may be slightly biased, but I did not enjoy this one. The curry flavour was alright, but the cuttlefish was not fresh and overcooked, resulting in a fishy smell and tough texture. I only took a bite then just ate the vegetables.
The prices for the baos are as follows: 1 for $3.35, 2 for $6.35, 3 for $9.55, and each after that is priced the same. They also have dim sum combos that you can add to the baos or order separately. Overall, though the location is a bit dingy, Mean Bao is a good place to stop for a snack or lunch if you’re in the area.