looloo’s Siopao Blind Taste Test: Quick-Service Edition


You know how when someone yawns, you find yourself involuntarily opening your mouth too? Well, food cravings are just as infectious. When someone says they’re craving for *insert food item here*, all of a sudden your mouth’s watering for the same thing!

This week in the looloo HQ, someone (ehem, Peanut D.) wanted siopao so badly that everyone else started craving for soft, steamy, meat-filled buns as well. And that was when the idea of doing a siopao blind taste test was born!


Freshly steamed siopao

Through the BTT (blind taste test), we wanted to see who would emerge as having the best siopao in Metro Manila in terms of 1) bun, 2) filling, 3) bun-to-filling ratio, 4) sauce, and 5) value for money. Also, we just wanted to have an excuse to stuff our faces.

The Rules

For this edition of the siopao BTT, the looloo crew decided to include just the siopaos from quick-service establishments (aka not full-service restaurants like Ma Mon Luk or Le Ching) with more than two branches in the metro.

Initially, we put Chowking, Ersao, Hen Lin, and Kowloon House on the list, all of which are famous for their siopao. But Ersao had to be disqualified because we went to two of their branches but came back to the office sad and empty handed.

As for the filling, we decided to buy asado from all the three places instead of bola-bola because it seems to be the more popular choice among siopao enthusiasts (though we’re willing to do a bola-bola edition if our assumption is proven wrong!)

The Siopao Judges

For the duration of the taste test, the judges (namely Gwen I., Pam L., Peanut D., and Roegan T. of the looloo crew) were kept blindfolded. All they could do was touch, smell, and taste the individual siopaos to figure out if they liked them or not.

FYI: Since peeling the paper from the bottom of the siopaos as well as squirting sauce on them would’ve been impossibly hard with blindfolds on, the work was done for them beforehand.

The Results

Maybe you’re thinking there’s not much to talk about because all siopaos kind of taste the same regardless of where they’re from. Well, the judges had a lot to say! Without holding back, their reactions varied from surprise, to satisfaction, to utter disgust. Read on for their comments and ratings!

Siopao #1: Chowking


Chowking’s Asado Siopao

Criteria Peanut D. Gwen I. Pam L. Roegan T. Average Score
Bun 4/5 5/5 5/5 4.5/5 4.625
Asado Filling 4/5 4/5 5/5 4/5 4.25
Bun-to-Filling Ratio 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5 4.625
Sauce 2/5 5/5 3/5 3/5 3.25
Value for Money 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5 4.75

When you’re the biggest Chinese fast food chain in the country, you’re expected to have great siopao. Good thing Chowking fared well in the BTT, garnering praise for their bun, asado filling, bun-to-filling ratio, and value for money.

Gwen I. loved the bun, saying: “It’s firm and not soggy.” She rated it a perfect 5.

As for Peanut D., she liked the asado filling and gave it a solid 4 despite finding something a little strange in her siopao. “It’s saucy but not too much. But I bit into something hard and I don’t know what it was. It was like a chipped tooth or something.” We came to the conclusion that it was probably just a bone and not something that fell out of a human mouth.

Pam L. was impressed with the bun-to-filling ratio, saying: “There’s a lot of filling so that’s good. I feel that they didn’t scrimp on the meat.” Chowking gained another 5 points for that.

The sauce, however, didn’t get as much love. The consensus was that it was too sweet and needed to be balanced out with a little more saltiness.

Chowking can be found at these locations.

Siopao #2: Hen Lin

Hen Lin

Hen Lin’s Asado Siopao

Criteria Peanut D. Gwen I. Pam L. Roegan T. Average Score
Bun 3.5/5 1/5 3/5 3.5/5 2.75
Asado Filling 4.5/5 4/5 4/5 5/5 4.375
Bun-to-Filling Ratio 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 5
Sauce 1/5 1/5 2/5 3/5 1.75
Value for Money 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 5

Hen Lin wasn’t any of the judges’ go-to place for siopao but after doing the BTT, it looks like they’ve found a whole new appreciation for it. They gave it high marks specifically for the asado filling, bun-to-filling ratio, and value for money.

Roegan T. preferred this siopao’s asado filling over that of the first one (Chowking’s) and so did Peanut D. They both agreed that the meat was flavorful, not too saucy, and is exactly what asado filling should be.

As for the bun-to-filling ratio, all four judges gave it 5 points, impressed by how balanced the siopao was. The bun wasn’t too thick and had just the right amount of meat inside.

Hen Lin also got a perfect score for value for money! Everyone agreed that ₱35 per piece was a pretty good deal, especially since you’re getting something that’s flavorful and decently sized.

However, they did say that the bun and sauce could use some work. According to the judges, the bun was too sticky and didn’t seem like it was cooked all the way through. As for the the sauce, they found it too sour and off-putting.

Hen Lin can be found at these locations.

Siopao #3: Kowloon House


Kowloon’s Asado Siopao

Criteria Peanut D. Gwen I. Pam L. Roegan T. Average Score
Bun 3.5/5 1/5 1/5 3.5/5 2.125
Asado Filling 3.5/5 1/5 1/5 3.5/5 2.25
Bun-to-Filling Ratio 3.5/5 1/5 2/5 3/5 2.375
Sauce 2/5 1/5 2/5 2/5 1.75
Value for Money 4/5 3/5 3/5 3/5 3.25

Before doing the BTT, everyone already had Kowloon House as the winner in the back of their minds. Using past positive experiences as basis, they were expecting to be blown away. But there was something about being blindfolded and having their other senses heightened that caused them to notice the smaller details.

The biggest disappointment seemed to be the bun. Pam L., who thought its texture was weird, said: “On the outside it’s super dry and crumbly but then the middle part is moist and sticky. It’s like it’s not cooked evenly.” She gave it the lowest possible score of 1.

The asado filling didn’t fare any better, which got hate comments for being very dry. The kindest comment came from Roegan T. who said: “It’s not bad but it’s not the typical sweet asado. It’s a different way of cooking asado.”

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, Kowloon’s siopao also got low scores for its bun-to-filling ratio and sauce. The common criticism was that there was too much bun and not enough meat and that the sauce was just as bad the second one (Hen Lin’s).

Kowloon House can be found at these locations.

Aaaaaand the first place goes to…

Criteria #1 Chowking #2 Hen Lin #3 Kowloon
Bun 4.625 2.75 2.125
Asado Filling 4.25 4.375 2.25
Bun-to-Filling Ratio 4.625 5 2.375
Sauce 3.25 1.75 1.75
Value for Money 4.75 5 3.25
TOTAL SCORE 21.5/25 18.875/25 11.75/25

After averaging all the points for each criterion, it’s clear that Hen Lin and Kowloon were no match for Chowking’s bun. Chowking’s sauce also did a whole lot better than its two competitors.

But it’s Hen Lin who takes the cake when it comes to asado filling, bun-to-filling ratio, and value for money, earning almost perfect scores for each category!

Siopao Battle Royale

Siopao Battle Royale

It might seem like too close of a battle between Chowking and Hen Lin but totalling the average scores revealed one true winner.

Scoring 21.5 points out of 25 and steering three points clear of Hen Lin, Chowking bags first place for the looloo siopao blind taste test, quick-service edition! Wooooo!

Before all the Hen Lin and Kowloon fans start coming at us with pitchforks though, we all have our own personal preferences and it would be impossible for everyone to agree on a deserving winner.

But if there’s anything we can all agree on, it’s that siopao is great and we could all use one every now and then. Let us know which one’s your favorite!

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About Author

Denise Jose

Denise is a recovering food addict. She distracts herself with photography and keeps off the pounds by doing pilates. She is still struggling, however, and has occasional relapses. Her food comas are mostly induced by oily burgers and chocolate desserts.