The bao is king at Don Bao in Kapitolyo
They had us at unlimited rice.
1 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) It’s been years since we hopped on the fusion trend but the gastronomic scene is still keen on churning out its own takes on ramen, sushi, karaage, and bento meals. One item that hasn’t been receiving much of the local fanfare it deserves, however, is the bao—the steamed folded buns you can fill with pretty much anything. While we’ve seen a few spurts of it in several menus, it never really moved out of its appetizer phase in most restaurants.
Kapitolyo’s newest quaint eatery, Don Bao, is a game-changer. Co-owner Kevin Te and his friends were firm believers that the bao concept would take off locally, as it did in the international scene.
The stars of the menu are clear-cut here. The baos, in all its types and forms, are the focus on one end. And then there’s the more traditional Japanese rice bowls on the other. “I always like to think of our menu as something that has two sides to it. There’s the don side, which is the more traditional side. Everybody pretty much knows about katsudon, gyudon, et cetera, so that’s pretty basic. We also have specialties for the don that’s something of our own concoction. As for the baos, this is where we became more creative,” Kevin quips.
Good Morning Bao
Bao Chicka Bao Bao
Make a run for the plethora of filling baos tailor-fit for every mood. The sandwich, in all its glory, costs only P120. And for an order of two, the price is still friendly at P200. If you’re craving delectable Japanese fare, for instance, go all out with the Crazy Bao. We’re talking kani generously clothed in eel sauce and garnished with dollops of tempura flakes and tobiko, as well as Japanese mayonnaise to heighten the savory notes. The adventurous foodie will be pleasantly surprised with the Good Morning Bao. The gyuniku, scrambled egg, cornflakes, tobiko, and garlic-mayo combo is a marriage of ingredients that will strike you as odd at first, but a few bites in and the sandwich will leave you wanting more. Their Bao Chicka Bao Bao is more than just its catchy name. The feisty kick is taken up a notch with a one-two punch of the sandwich’s kimchi and special sauce.
Chicken Teriyaki Don
Special Tendon and Crispy Chicken Don
Katsu Curry Don
The time-tested don bowls are the ideal go-to meals for those who want rice with their ulam. There’s unlimited rice on hand and the bowls come in huge servings—good for sharing or for the appetite of an insanely ravenous party of one. We recommend the Special Tendon (P280) if your taste buds are a fan of subtle piquancy. The head-turning stunner (as is with all their baos and dons) is in their sauce—the dish is clothed and brought to life with its lush full-flavored relish. The Chicken Teriyaki Don (P220) is more akin to the sweet smoky side of things while the Crispy Chicken Don (P230) is anything but basic.
Wagyu Beef Cubes
The Tonkotsu Ramen (P295) was added to the menu only recently due to popular demand. For now, they have one variant but in the coming weeks, expect a spicier version. We recommend ordering this one to complement the dons and the baos. Add some SPAM Musubi (P121) and melt-in-your mouth tender Wagyu Beef Cubes (P165) while you’re at it.
Fried Bao with Nutella S'mores
The bao concept gets the dessert treatment, too (yes, it’s possible). Case in point is their Fried Bao with Nutella S'mores (P95). Rest assured, the confection is sure to tickle the palates of just about any sweet tooth. We highly recommend that you round out the whole experience with a drink or two. And because you deserve it at any time of day, at any day of the week, a Sake Bomb (P100) is in order.
At the end of the day, Don Bao is all about serving quality meals that won’t hurt your wallet’s feelings, so much so that the diner’s bang-for-your-buck dishes are below the P300 mark. With a cozy casual ambience to match, Don Bao is the much-needed breather to a stressful workday, a place to catch up with friends, or a nice mid-week gastronomic affair.
Photos by Vincent Coscolluela