Mantou or 馒头 is a Chinese steamed bun. It’s the plain cousin of bao (bun), which comes with different types of fillings such as tau sar (red bean) or char siew (roast pork).
The humble mantou was a breakfast mainstay throughout my primary school days. I woke at 6am then, often to the sound of the tin cover knocking steadily against the wok in which the frozen buns sat. It was comforting hearing the sound and watching the spurting white steam. They were like gentle hands opening the doors to the gradually increasing noise and vibrance of the day’s activities.
Mantou slowly got removed from my family’s breakfast menu, and the next time I thought about it was when I heard a joke:
Q: Char Siew bao and Mantou went to watch a movie. The movie was very sad and Char Siew bao cried. Mantou, however, did not cry. Why?
A: Because Mantou has no filling/feeling.
Poor Mantou. Despite its role in my childhood, it must be so unfulfilled. Ha. Ha.