Address: 1/288 Springvale Rd, Springvale VIC
Phone: 03 9547 8289
From an interview with Terry that has been edited.
First published by The City of Greater Dandenong
I have been a baker all my life.
It started as a part time job, and the passion grew from there. When I got married, my wife and I decided to open this business.
We chose the name Bun Bun because – in Chinese culture – they often put two of the same words together.
And, when we opened, we mostly sold loaves of bread.
Now we are famous for our crispy roast pork, roast chicken and fresh salad rolls.
We have lots of other sandwich options.
BBQ pork, meatballs, steamed pork, ham, chicken kebabs, our homemade rice paper rolls and our crunchy spring rolls. They are very cheap; five for $2.
We are also well known for our rich and creamy pate. It is our own recipe. We use chicken liver, mince, onion, garlic and a lot of other ingredients and roast it in the oven for 70 minutes.
We make 20 litres of it every second day.
It is delicious.
We open at 6am, so we start baking at 4am.
We use flour, yeast, bread improver, salt and sugar for our bread, and we put it in the oven for about 25 minutes. You can smell our fresh bread from far away.
The way that we make bread is the same as when we started Bun Bun Bakery
And I am here for about 15 hours a day, seven days a week.
There is a big demand so I keep working and working.
I marinade the roast chicken and pork in BBQ sauce, lemongrass, garlic and other ingredients.
The traditional pork rolls are usually steamed, but we roast the meat in our big oven. We are experts in that but – when we started – nobody wanted to buy them. I would put them out, they would go unsold and I’d pack everything away. That went on for a few months.
One customer would come in regularly, and he would eat them all the time. When I took the roast pork rolls off the menu, he complained. “The pork rolls are really nice,” he said. “One day, you will succeed.” I tried again and – for the first time – it worked.
I never told the customer that he was a big reason as to why I kept them. Whenever he comes in, I am at the back. When I come to the front, he is gone. We keep missing each-other.
I think that Bun Bun Bakery would have survived without the roast pork rolls, but we wouldn’t be as popular.
Our sandwiches are different to the ones in Vietnam.
And, to be honest, I think they are a lot better here.
In Vietnam, they don’t give you as much pork or pâté, And they don’t have roast pork or chicken rolls like the ones I make. That is my own invention. It has Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese components.
On our quietest day, we would sell about 600 filled rolls and, on our busiest day, about 1100 rolls. Weekends are a lot busier, with people travelling hours in the car for our rolls. For $5 they are very cheap, really good quality and they fill you up for a long time.
And, in 2009, a journalist from The Age said that we have one of the top 10 sandwiches in Melbourne. Before that article our customers were mainly from Springvale but – after that – people came from everywhere.
Since then, our sandwiches have been written about in Broadsheet, news.com.au, The Urban List, Fox Radio and several other outlets. We have had regulars who have been coming for 20 years.
But we become busier every day.
I have lived in Springvale since 1981.
The area has changed a lot over the years.
A lot more buildings, a lot more shops and a bigger population. It is a better area compared to when we started.
And I’m waiting for my children to finish school and go to university. They aren’t interesting in baking, and I want them to study.
The hours here are long, and being a baker involves a lot of hard work every day.
Some bakers try, but you either have it or you don’t.
Written by Aron Lewin with all photos by Tatiana C C Scott