Lovely Pao (Toronto) for takeout

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

Being a food blogger, it’s no surprise I ate out quite a bit before the quarantine started. Since the lockdown, things have changed…most days, I’m preparing all three meals at home. Lunch has been the most haphazard meal - on good days there’s leftovers from the night before, but often, it’s canned soup, a toasted bagel, or a lettuce salad with a slice of bread. In between all the meetings for the day, getting a tasty bite is difficult when there’s no food court and Ritual in my basement.

So, when I was invited by Lovely Pao to get six of their sio paos, little did I know I’d have lunches for the next three days – it could have been six, but I’m nice and shared with the hubby.

Sio pao translates from Tagalog as “hot bun” and are essentially big fluffy baos filled with a sweet and savoury filling made with pork ($12.75 for 6 buns) or chicken ($14 for 6 buns). Both have the meat cut in large chunks and are tender and flavourful thanks to the asado glaze. The sauce isn’t as sweet as what’s found in Chinese barbeque pork buns, but it also doesn’t need to be as flavourful as the bread, despite the bun’s size, is also thinner – especially the bottom, it almost melts into the sauce.

Slice into them and you’ll see there’s also half a hard-boiled egg in the middle. This isn’t traditional, rather a twist Lovely Pao made to their recipe. In fact, the business started off as a way to make ends meet, when the owner was unemployed and facing financial difficulties. She made the buns in her kitchen, selling them to friends and family, and worked at perfecting the recipe. Instead of making them too runny, she offered a thicker sauce on the side for people to add themselves.

As the business gained popularity, two stores eventually opened in North York and Guelph. And Lovely Pao even supplies some Filipino supermarkets around the city, for those who can’t get to their bakery.

If you do make it out, the store also sells other Filipino food items: bowls of noodles – mami and lomi, fried rice, the icy halo halo, and tons of other snacks and desserts. Even so, the sio pao are still their most popular item that can be enjoyed as a meal, snack, or to satisfy a late-night craving.

If you’re like me, a quick zip in the microwave with a damp paper towel on top, makes for an easy lunch! I do wish Lovely Pao would add a vegetarian option to the line-up, given I’m usually a flexitarian and refrain from eating meat on Monday to Thursdays. I’d imagine the same sauce with seitan would be delicious and possibly create a whole new market for these massive fluffy paos. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10 
Disclaimer: The buns were complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 756 Wilson Avenue
 Delivery: Uber
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!

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