Don Bao: Enjoy Crazy Baos and Huge Rice Bowls

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Japanese cuisine has a special place in my heart. Sushi, ramen, rice bowls, tempura; there’s just a lot to love about the cuisine that every meal is just as exciting as the last. You can go Plain Jane sashimi, or you can eat the most intricate, complex rice bowl and still leave satisfied. Enter Don Bao.

A photo posted by Don Bao ( on

The humble little restaurant in Kapitolyo, Pasig is a venture of four friends led by Kevin Te. The place opened late November last year and has since served up food that’s definitely bang for your buck. The place itself features minimal furnishing made more vibrant with photographs of the menu items on the wall. Heck, you can even eat outside if you like!

Kevin walked us through the menu, telling us that Don Bao focuses on Rice Bowls (DONburis) and Buns (BAO). Other menu items are also present for the adventurous, such as some of the appetizers. All in all, our team of interns got to try a bunch appetizers, some rice bowls, and quite the amount of buns.

The Appetizers

Wagyu Beef Cubes (Php150)

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I’ve never had Wagyu Beef before, in all honesty. Seeing it featured in a ton of cooking shows that I’ve watched over the years, I was very excited to see if the general praise was well-deserved…and it is! Once it touched my tastebuds, I was like “Okay, cool”. I started chewing it and was floored by how tender and juicy it was. They serve it with salt on the side; so if you think it ain’t flavorful enough, give it a little salt rub. Just a little.

SPAM Musubi (Php110)

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This was the first item they took out of the kitchen for us to spend some quality time with…and it was the item that I was eyeing the entire time they were taking photos for about an hour or so! Was the wait worth it? Absolutely! Among the appetizers we tried, this was my takeaway winner. The saltiness of the SPAM blends well with the creaminess of the Japanese mayonnaise. Together with the nori, the sesame seeds, and the coriander, the dish just explodes with flavor in your mouth. Absolutely delicious!

The Baos

I love me a good steamed bun. Well, I guess siopao comes to mind when we say steamed buns, but make no mistake: these baos are a step up that might just make you question your love for good ol’ siopao.

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Don Bao’s Buns are like complete meals in themselves. Each one is so filling that it was actually a struggle trying them all out. I was actually quite amused that they looked like big pandesals to me- something very close to home which made me like the baos a little easier.

Save for the dessert bao, every bao here costs 120 pesos, 200 pesos when you get two.

Piggy Bao Ride

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This was where the comparison to your usual siopao became apparent. The Pork Katsu married with that mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce is a match made in heaven. The nori melds well with the rest of the flavors. The cabbage gives the fililng that extra crisp. Overall, a nice start to the bao lineup with a balance of flavors and textures.

Fire Bao

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It’s like the perky little sister to the Piggy Bao Ride. The Sriracha mayonnaise gives it creaminess with a sizzle in your mouth while the pickles give the bao that extra kick to complete the dish.

Bao Chicka Bao Bao

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If the Fire Bao had a BFF, it’s this bao. The first of the two chicken baos; this one is filled with Chicken Katsu, Kimchi for kick, and Coriander and Black Sesame to finish off the bright flavor profile akin to the Fire Bao.

P. King Bao

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The next chicken bao features grilled chicken, hoisin sauce, cucumber, crushed prawn crackers, and spring onions. The grilled chicken is actually an awesome choice to balance out the texture of this bao, making it not overly crisp. The hoisin sauce also helps balance out the bright flavors of the cucumber and the spring onions.

Crazy Bao

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My. Favorite. Bao.

Kevin says this one’s their bestseller, and I could definitely see why. It’s crazy good that it actually grabbed a podium finish in Our Awesome Planet’s Ultimate Taste Test last year! I actually wasn’t able to share it with the others on the table anymore.

The Kani (crabstick) in eel sauce is something I loved! The Japanese Mayonnaise takes the creaminess a notch higher while the tempura flakes and spring onions give the bao that needed extra crisp. The Tobiko (like the orange stuff you see on some sushi rolls) adds a little saltiness to the dish, which makes the creaminess less overpowering. This divine combination provides a flavourful explosion unlike anything I’ve ever had to date. Apart from the flavor, the textures play well in my mouth, as well, making this one of the few items to ever give me a foodgasm! You owe it to yourself to try one of these…or two…or three.

Fried Bao with Nutella S’mores

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Here’s a special shoutout to the exchange student among the baos. This one’s served at half the size of the steamed baos, and unlike those ones, this one’s a dessert. I initially thought this was going to be a light dessert seeing how the bao was fried to an airy crisp…until I saw that huge torched marshmallow in the middle. It doesn’t stop there though as it has a generous amount of Nutella in it. A graham cracker completes the bao, making it worthy of the S’mores moniker. The result? A seemingly bite-sized bao that you’ll have to finish in at least four bites. Trust me, to avoid that umay factor, be patient with it. It’s an awesome hot dessert.