Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Feels like home

Bao London

After a few years gaining a cult following with its delightful Taiwanese soft buns in Netil Market, the trio behind Bao (Shing Tat Chung, Erchen Chang and Wai Ting) managed to secured backing from the Sethi family to open their first permanent store in Soho, the Sethi family now have an impressive collection of restaurants including Bubblesdogs and Gymkhana. It would be interesting to see if the group would ever reach similar status like Nigel Platts-Martin's restaurant empire, with no less than 7 Michelin stars across London (Eg. The Ledbury, The Square). 

scallop with garlic
trotter nuggets
Taiwanese fried chicken

But lets get back to Bao, I was well aware it was going to be extremely popular so I arrived extra early before its opening time, the only other place I have done this for was a visit to Barrafina, that is the problem with no booking restaurants but I was willing to put up with it provided the food matched my expectations. The format of the menu is very similar to what you would find in other Chinese restaurants in China Town when you go for dim sum. You simply grab a pencil and tick off which items you would like to have, the menu has expanded a lot with some classic Taiwanese street food dishes, we pretty much ordered everything off the menu to share between three of us. 

pig blood cake
40 days rump cap
Chi Shiang rice

The scallop was fresh with a hint of spicy sensation from the garlic, it was such a treat with the sweet and peppery shallot soy sauces. The star on the day wasn't one of the baos but the Chi Shiang rice, it is a modern twist to your classic rice pot you find when you go for dim sum. The rice absorbed all the lovely flavour from the guinea fowl and mushroom, a very classic Chinese flavour that I just can't get enough of. Pig blood cake was an ambitious dish but I really adore it, the rich and bold flavours with a creamy egg yolk reminded me of a Scottish breakfast (think black pudding but seasoned with Chinese spices). The classic pork bao was as good as the street food days, lovely moist shredded pork using loui mei marinate containing soy sauces, ginger and five spices, all inside a soft and smooth milk bun. 

classic pork bao
lamb shoulder bao
confit pork bao

It was a very enjoyable meal, every dish were executed wonderfully with not a single bad one in sight. Price is a little more expensive than its street days but that is as expected in a premium location in Soho when the rent can be absolutely outrageous. To sum it up, Bao is all about bringing classic Taiwanese and Cantonese street food elements to London using fine ingredients, recipes that have been popular in the Far East for decades but presented in a modern era. Now looking back, what an incredible journey the trio has been thorugh, from street food vendor to owning a restaurant in the space of just a few years, I am sure the restaurant will be one of the most successful launches this year. 

Food 3/5

What I paid: 


Average cost without drinks and services:


53 Lexington St Soho W1F 9AS

Bao on Urbanspoon

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