Winne (“Amber”) and Hsin Cheng are the owners of Taiwanese food truck and eatery Bao Plus and have created an extensive menu that will offer their customers with an option of a meal that is quick, affordable, and bursting with flavours! With a strong focus around creating baos that are packed with a range of ingredients, such as Korean fried chicken, crispy pork, and teriyaki tofu, in addition to gluten-free and vegetarian options, Adelaidians can expect a diverse range of items from the Bao+ menu, which has a taste of authentic Taiwanese cuisine.
In anticipation of her appearance at the upcoming Gathered SA market on July 13 + 14 at the Queens Theatre, I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with co-founder Amber to learn a bit more about the business – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Who are the faces behind Bao+?
Amber: My name is Amber and I was born and raised in Taiwan. I’ve lived in Adelaide for a few years and my passion is cooking. After graduation from Le Cordon Bleu, I decided to start and run this business, which stemmed from my characteristics, background, and life experiences. I want to introduce some Taiwanese culture into Adelaide and let everyone try our Taiwan cuisine.
Tema: How did you come up with the name of your business?
Amber: Bao is originally from Taiwan, and it means steamed soft bun. The ‘+’ indicates the unlimited variations and possibilities of the flavours we can achieve; just from changing the filling! We want to keep our business creative and innovative, so this name suited our business ideology best.
Tema: How long have you been running Bao+ for?
Amber: I have been running Bao+ for almost 1.5 years. During the past year, we’ve participated in a few food festivals and markets, where we have served our food.
Tema: How have you found the journey of your business so far?
Amber: So far, I’m happy with what we, as a business, have been through. The journey hasn’t been easy, but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it so far!
Tema: What would you say about Bao+ to someone who may not have heard of you before?
Amber: I would say it’s like a Chinese burger. The soft steamed bun goes well with many types of fillings. This means our creativity decides what kind of dishes we can produce.
Tema: How did you decide on what dishes to offer through your business? What does the creative process look like?
Amber: We know time is precious for everyone and if people need to wait too long for food, their satisfaction will be affected. Therefore, we try our best to simplify the process of preparing the food, so the taste will be consistent and standardized. We taste test every dish many times, before adding it to our menu. Our customers come first, so we put in a lot effort and research to ensure our menu gives maximum satisfaction.
Tema: What inspires you to run your business?
Amber: I’ve always wanted to do something like this with my life. Adelaide is my second home, so I thought that there’s no better place to start my business. I don’t want a boring life, I want to do something I’m passionate about, and make a career out of it. The bonus for me is seeing happy and satisfied customers come through my restaurant.
Tema: What are the range of dishes to offer through your business?
Amber: We offer a wide yet simple array of dishes; our mains are steamed buns with different fillings, but we also offer rice bowls as well. We also have a few side dishes, such as dumplings, as well as a couple of homemade drinks.
Tema: What are some products that are popular among your customers?
Amber: Our best-selling steamed bun is our Korean fried chicken Bao. Because of this we’ve had to adjust the spiciness of this steamed bun to better suit a larger portion of our market. Customers are also quite fond of our dumplings.
Tema: How did you get involved with gathered SA?
Amber: It’s an interesting story actually. I attended an event organized by Gathered SA near TAFE SA. After experiencing the event, I was interested and wanted to participate in the future market. From there, I decided to apply for a position in Gathered SA’s market.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience, when they purchase from Bao+?
Amber: I want customers to have an awesome experience with Bao+, so we make sure we cut down on long serving times and ensure that our quality control is adequate. Thus, our customers are able to have the full Bao+ experience. I really hope that people can share the passion and happiness that we put in our dishes with their loved ones.
Tema: What do you think is rewarding/challenging about being a small-scale business in SA?
Amber: As a small-scale business, it can be relatively hard to be viral, especially in a little city like Adelaide. We lack some platforms that bigger cities have, in order to showcase our product. However, I believe that everything has two sides. Being a little city, Adelaide is blessed with a tight-knit and welcoming community. Therefore, word of mouth goes a long way here, which is good for small businesses like us, because from this, we can develop a strong and loyal customer base.
Tema: What do you think helps your business stand out from the rest?
Amber: I believe our product is unique and that is how we are able to stand out as a small business. We fuse different cuisines together to make something unique. For example, our best seller is inspired by Korean cuisine mixed with Taiwanese cuisine. This means that we can change and adapt with the times and offer new dishes as the norm changes. Also, all ingredients used in our dishes are from South Australia, so we try our best to contribute back into the state and country. I hope people will feel my passion for the food we create at Bao+ and that our customers will be pleased with the array of dishes we serve.
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos supplied by Hsin Cheng // Astonish Patisserie Bao+
With thanks to Gathered SA for the interview opportunity