A favourite on the Cardiff street food scene, Bao Selecta will open their first permanent stall inside Cardiff’s iconic Central Market, selling their popular steamed bao buns.
Owners Nick Spann and his wife Karolina have developed a vegan-only menu for the stall, which will include their award-winning crispy seitan ‘beef’ bao bun – part of the menu that won the ‘people’s choice award’ at the Welsh Street Food Awards back in 2020.
Nick, 40, originally from Shropshire, has lived and worked in the food industry in Cardiff since 2007. After a dinner party where he first tested out his bao buns on friends, he and his then girlfriend travelled Asia for a year on the hunt for the perfect dishes to bring back to Wales.
Nick explained: “I’d always wanted to do something on my own but didn’t really know what – but after a successful, albeit lively dinner party with my friends, the feedback convinced me that bao buns was the way to go.”
Bao buns (pronounced “bow”), also known as ‘steamed buns’ are a delicious, warm, fluffy treat of various fillings wrapped inside a sweet, white dough. Made with a mix of flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder and oil.
Nick continued, “We started in 2016, popping up at local food festivals like Bite Cardiff and Street Food Circus as well as catering events and weddings – but it was in December 2019 I actually decided to quit my day job and to focus on the business completely.”
“We all know what happened in March 2020, but we used that time to hone our craft, making hundreds of takeaway bao buns at home from our kitchen.”
Bao Selecta has been a regular at Sticky Fingers in Cardiff for five residencies, so a permanent stall was an obvious next step.
Nick said: “Cardiff Market continues to evolve. I love the diversity of the stalls – from the local cafes and the record shop, to the psychic, and everything that’s in between! It’s a true cross-section of the city.
“We didn’t want to step on any toes of what is already on offer in the market, but with our seitan crispy beef already being our best seller – we decided to go completely vegan for our stall. I’m not vegan myself but I’ve loved developing this menu, and it makes sense as it means everyone can enjoy our food. Most people don’t even realise our crispy beef bao buns are vegan – we’ve even had a rugby team say it was the best beef they’ve ever tasted!
“This new stall is a really exciting step for us and provides a permanent venue with the flexibility for us to offer seasonal specials throughout the year.”
Situated on the ground floor of the market, stall number 39, Bao Selecta will be open from w/c 20th March, Tuesday – Saturday from 11:30- 14:30, offering fluffy steamed bao buns and a new menu of rice bowls.
For more information, and to keep an eye on the specials menus to come, follow @baoselecta on Instagram.