Bao Culture

Special thanks to Bao Culture for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Automall is a lifestyle mall with around two dozen food establishments. One of these eateries is Bao Culture Food And Drink, which is located directly above Macau Street and U Desserts.
Taking an elevation position has benefits. The open-air concept of Bao Culture takes advantage of cooling breeze from the sea. With favorable weather, one enjoys scenic views of the Penang Strait and the mainland on the horizon.
The restaurant design is inspired by food trucks, a concept which the proprietor picked up during her visit to Europe. The ordering kiosk is modeled after a beachfront juice bar, while the kitchen resembles a mobile trailer. Both structures are custom-built for their respective purposes - not refurbished from actual ones.
At Bao Culture, the seating arrangement is free and easy. Card games, rocking horses and bicycles are provided for customers to pass time. It is also interesting to see several wooden tables that have been made from former prison doors.
As the name implies, the main specialty at Bao Culture is the creative use of baozi (包子), or more accurately, mantou (馒头, meat buns). Each piece of mantou is cut open and filled with a type of meat (5 choices) and sauce (7 choices).
Mantou can either be steamed, fried or toasted. Made from leavened wheat flour, the bread is fluffy and very easy on the mouth. Meanwhile, the sauces used at Bao Culture are all prepared from scratch.
Customers can choose any combination of mantou, meat and sauce. There are several harmonic combinations though. For example, Grilled Chicken Bao (RM15.00) goes well with fried mantou and teriyaki sauce. Sweet-savory teriyaki glaze accentuates the juicy nature of grilled chicken thigh, while fried mantou provides lovely crispiness. Also included are a slice of cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.
Deep-Fried Chicken Bao (RM15.00) goes well with toasted (actually it's pan-fried) mantou because their firmness are closer to each other. Spicy mayonnaise is used as dressing. The dressing is not too spicy - just about right for me. I do think that a sprinkle of pepper can improve this sandwich even further.
If poultry is not your cup of tea, Deep-Fried Fish (RM15.00) may be a sound idea. The fillet is made from tilapia, which is a good choice given its scrumptious flavor and texture. Wasabi mayonnaise tantalizes the tongue with a mild degree of pungency. The fillet works well with steamed mantou, which is the original form that most people are accustomed to.
Bao Culture's menu also includes a handful of pasta dishes. My order of Carbonara (RM16.00) turns out to be an excellent choice! Spaghetti is coated with mouth-watering sauce made from egg, cheese and butter. Although creamy, the sauce is not excessively thick that it becomes surfeiting. Furthermore, the plate of Carbonara is enhanced by succulent pork belly slices.
Moving on to beverages, Coffee Latte (RM8.00) is prepared from espresso and steamed milk. The espresso may be on the bitter end of the spectrum for most people, but I personally prefer bitterness over sweetness for my coffee. Nevertheless, sugar is available upon request.
Snowy Ice Blended Chocolate (RM15.00) is a new drink on the menu. I like the lingering bitter-sweet taste of chocolate on my palate. Whipped cream is added on top.
Another newly-introduced drink is Vanilla Milk Shake (RM12.00). I think the shake is on the sweet side of my liking. Then again, it is very difficult to find the "sweet spot" (pun intended) that works for everyone. Instead, it may be better to allow customers to customize their preferred level of sweetness.
Overall, Bao Culture is a nice place to visit if you are looking for snacks or light meals. The airy ambience is also an alternate place to hang out instead of air-conditioned settings. Bao Culture is also a kid-friendly eatery as there are several forms of entertainment to keep the little ones occupied.
Name: Bao Culture Food And Drink
Address: 29D-3-2, Automall Penang, Persiaran Karpal Singh, 11600 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 019-411-0808
Business hours: 12:00pm-12:00am (Sunday-Thursday), 12:00pm-2:00am (Friday-Saturday)
Coordinates: 5.39803 N, 100.32958 E
Directions: From Lebuhraya Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu, take the Sungai Pinang exit and head east. Drive to the end of the road, then turn left. Automall is within a short distance on the left, while Bao Culture is one of the shops on the upper floor. Street parking and indoor mall parking are available.

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