I can remember eating my first ever custard bun. It was in Chinatown in Singapore – and it was love at first taste!
After that first delicious melt-in-the-mouth moment when the hot custard comes oozing out, I was simply addicted to what the Chinese call Lai Wong Bao (奶黄包). Nowadays, these custard buns are part and parcel of Chinese dim sum cuisine, served to your table in traditional bamboo baskets! Wherever you are in the world, you can find a shop in the local Chinatown that stocks them (I have even seen frozen versions for you to heat up at home).
Here is a guide to show how to make your own custard buns! (first time you click on the link it might not load but just refresh the page).
Not all custard buns have a runny filling, although those are certainly my preferred kind. As the buns are steamed the custard can become hardened inside, and while this is a completely natural occurrence, most people like their buns to be cooked to perfection – and that means runny custard! But how do you know your bun with have runny custard before you buy it?
Liu Sha Bao (流沙包) vs Lai Wong Bao (奶黄包)? Well, in my experience, most sellers of these custard buns typically market them as the same thing (that’s where the confusion comes from), although technically Liu Sha Bao is the runny custard variety, whereas the Lai Wong Bao is supposed to be the hardened custard version. I tried a version with hardened custard in London’s Chinatown once and threw it away after one bite! It was horrible, but thankfully my other experiences with these buns have been delightful – regardless of which variety I ate!