PETALING JAYA: The Covid-19 pandemic caused many hardships for businesses throughout Malaysia with the F&B industry in particular being badly affected.
But it’s during times of adversity like these that opportunities sometimes present itself.
That was the case for a trio of friends comprising Lucas Isaac, Marc Wong and Dominic Chou, all of whom studied law together once.
With job prospects low, the trio turned to the food industry instead and started a small business in their condominium, producing all manner of halal baos for delivery and takeaways.
So successful was this little venture that five months later, The Bao Guys moved into their very own brick-and-mortar store in the food haven that is SS2 in Petaling Jaya.
Situated on the second floor of a shop lot, the café’s comfortable and casual dining atmosphere makes it the perfect place to kick back and relax in with friends.
As can be guessed from the name, The Bao Guys specialises in serving a large variety of tasty guao baos, a popular Taiwanese snack.
Each uniquely named bao comes with its own filling, and for most people, a single bao makes for a hearty meal.
So, what’s good? The Bao Guys are more than happy to give customers their recommendations.
For a first-time visit, try The Cluck Norris with its filling of fried chicken slathered with egg and gherkin mayonnaise and served in a black charcoal bao.
Though this bao seems simple, The Cluck Norris packs a punch like its namesake, with the chicken deep-fried to crisp perfection and the mayonnaise serving as the perfect condiment.
Alternatively, you could try the Beef Be With You, a love letter to meat lovers with the beef seasoned with spicy braised mala mayonnaise.
Within it you’ll find tender pieces of beef that fall away with each bite. The spiciness is done just right – it doesn’t singe but leaves your tongue all tingly.
Vegans don’t despair, for the Last Vegan is so delicious, it’ll impress even the most hardcore carnivore. The filling of deep-fried oyster mushrooms served with the chef’s special sriracha glaze is a little sweet, a little spicy and a little garlicky.
For those who like it spicy all the way, opt for the Ayam Really Hot. Jokes aside, this can be quite punishing on the tongue, so a cup of milk (ominously dubbed The Fire Extinguisher) is provided.
True to its name, the Ayam Really Hot features a slab of fried chicken coated with a signature spicy sauce that tastes somewhat like sambal.
But unlike sambal, the level of spice here will send you shooting through the roof with your tongue on fire at first bite. It is recommended that you eat the bao while it’s still hot, just to further enhance the strong flavours and sensation.
You can have either the fries or deep-fried oyster mushroom as side dishes, both of which are incredibly addictive.
Not a bao person? Try The Bao Guys’s rice bowls instead.
The Vegan Rice Bowl has chunky pieces of deep-fried tofu and lotus root served with a fragrant, garlic and onion oil rice so tasty, you could eat the rice on its own.
For a protein-rich option, tuck into the Beef Be With You Rice Bowl, which makes for a full meal with generous cuts of beef as well as a hard-boiled egg.
The Bao Guys also has its own selection of drinks.
While the Pink Lemonade will quench anyone’s thirst, the Fizzy Leong Shui is a must-try, with its comforting herbal tea given a fizzy twist. It may be confusing to the tongue at first, but it is most certainly refreshing and a fun spin on the classic kopitiam drink.
Looking for a little dessert? The Nak Kaya is just the thing for those with a sweet tooth, featuring hot mantou buns coated with rich kaya paste. These little treats are best eaten hot, with the soft fluffy buns complemented well by the sweet and thick kaya.
And given how spicy some of The Bao Guys’ offerings are, it only makes sense to beat the heat with an icy treat.
In a spin on the classic ice cream sandwich, the Ice Cream Bao features a scoop of ice cream wedged between two hot mantou buns.
It is quite the delight to enjoy, with the soft, fluffy buns balancing out the sweet and cold ice cream from local ice cream shop, Crème De La Crème.
Flavours change on a monthly basis, so there’s almost always something new with each visit, and there are also always toppings to add for your enjoyment.
In case you need more reasons to pop by The Bao Guys, just know that you’ll be doing good while eating good, as a portion of the establishment’s profits are donated to local orphanages.
The Bao Guys
12M, Jalan SS 2/61
47300 Petaling Jaya
Contact: 03-7863 0336
Operation hours: 12.30pm-10pm daily, closed on Tuesdays