Gua Bao – The Asian Delicacy That Takes the World by Storm

In most cultures around the world, you are likely to find a variant of a timeless classic: Slices of bread holding together fillings in between. From the ubiquitous hamburgers and sandwiches to the Vietnamese banh mi, everyone loves to eat bread with a bit of filling, be it sweet or savoury.

Gua bao is the Taiwanese version of this delicacy, and it certainly is a great one. Eating a filling gua bao bun stuffed with savoury fillings is a favourite comfort habit for Taiwanese, and it is spreading throughout the world!

The Origins of Gua Bao

Gua bao is a delicacy that comes from Taiwan. Otherwise known as bao bun, gua bao is a kind of lotus leaf bun originating from Fujian, China, where it was known as rou jia bao (‘meat between buns’). As Fujianese left their home country to settle in Taiwan, they brought along the delicacies of their hometown, gua bao included. The dish didn’t gain a lot of popularity at first in Taiwan, but it gradually caught on during the 70s, and soon became a staple of every night market in Taiwan afterwards.

Gua bao exploded in the West in the 2000s, as restaurant after restaurant put it on their menu. It became particularly popular in New York, where there is a significant population of Fujianese immigrants. Its popularity was such that numerous Western fusion restaurants began offering gua bao with unconventional fillings, including kimchi and karaage!

What Makes a Perfect Gua Bao?

At a glance, gua bao seems too simple to become such a huge success: It is essentially just the good old slices of bread holding fillings together! However, what makes gua bao stand out is the texture of the baos, or the buns, themselves. The steamed buns offer a fluffy texture that melts in your mouth the moment you take your first bite. They also come with a slightly sweet aftertaste that invites you to take bites after bites.

The secret ingredients to a perfect gua bao lie in the fillings. The traditional fillings for gua bao are pork belly with pickles, which offers a rich and savoury flavour that lingers in the mouth. Many vendors would often add crushed peanuts into the fillings for some extra richness and crunchiness. If you cannot find pork belly for your gua bao, it is perfectly fine to replace it with meaty Japanese yakitori or even tempura shrimps for a slightly umami taste.

Where to Buy the Best Gua Bao?

Gua bao is a fantastic exotic dish to enrich your menu, but it can be quite difficult to find fresh steamed buns outside of China or Taiwan. OrienBites offers authentic gua bao of different sizes to fit your business needs, and we make sure to preserve the texture as well as the flavours through cutting-edge packaging technologies. With our selection of gua bao, you can easily recreate this popular dish and add your own unique twist to create a house special!


Gua bao is a quintessentially Asian dish: It combines different textures and flavours to create a harmonizing and comforting culinary experience. It does not seek to create an elevated or fancy experience, just simply the pure joy of eating good food. If you are seeking a palate cleanser for your menu or an exotic touch, gua bao will be the perfect choice.