The Cultural Significance of Pao in Malaysia

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Pao, also known as Baozi, is a type of yeast-leavened filled bun that originates from China. However, it has found its way into the hearts and kitchens of many other countries, including Malaysia, through the Chinese diaspora.

Pao in Malaysia

In Malaysia, the Chinese diaspora’s influence has been significant, and Pao is a perfect example of this. The Malays have adopted these buns as their own, creating a uniquely Malay form of the baozi, called “pau” in Malay. The fillings are similar to those of Malay curry puffs, including potato curry, chicken curry, or beef curry. Some variants even include a quail egg in the middle, in addition to the curry. Other variations include Kaya (jam) or red bean paste as the filling.

Halal Pao

Given the high number of Muslims in Malaysia, these buns are halal and contain no pork. This makes them a popular choice for many Malaysians who adhere to dietary restrictions.

Where to Find Pao

Pao can be found at various locations throughout Malaysia. They are sold by roadside stalls, at pasar malams (night markets), highway rest stops, and pasar Ramadans (Ramadan food bazaars).


Pao is more than just a bun in Malaysia; it is a symbol of cultural integration and adaptation. It showcases how food can transcend cultural boundaries and become a part of a nation’s culinary identity.


Wikipedia – Baozi

Article curated by Suwaytha Gopal