The Bao-Factor

I love London.
I love the busy streets, the eclectic shops and the various flavours that entwine and captivate your senses as you wander the streets. But I find that after a few days in The Big Smoke I get sensory overload , so instead I tend to plan day trips, and those day trips usually have a very specific reason for my being there, and that reason is pretty much always food.

London has such an abundance of unique and flavourful restaurants that often it’s hard to choose where to eat, but in August there was one place that kept popping up all over my Twitter timeline with raving reviews and that place was Bao. So when S and I went to London to meet Edna, we knew we had our lunch spot sorted.

Bao’s journey started by moving venues across east London, however in April this year it found it’s permanent residence in Lexington Street in Soho and queues have been forming ever since. I kid you not! S and I met Edna at 12:30 and it was 45 minutes before we could get a table, so if you’re not a fan of queueing then this probably isn’t the place for you, but we went to London for Bao and when you go for Bao, you queue for Bao.

The venue itself is small with the size of the dining area being no bigger than a living room but the layout has been well designed with various size tables and benches and stools that tuck under for space saving. Our seat was right at the back near the kitchen, convenient for watching as people’s food flew off the pass.

The menu is short and simple with an abundance of flavour.
The Telegraph described it best when they said that the menu reads like a “glutton’s betting slip”.
The menu is a small paper list containing 9 xiao chi (snack type dishes), six gua bao (steamed milk buns with various fillings) and four sides and you mark what you want (and how many) in the box next to the dish with a pencil. Between the four of us we tried almost everything on the menu. Some may say that’s greedy, I prefer to think of it as being an equal opportunist in giving all of the dishes a chance.

The order of service is simple, pick what you want and it’ll come out as and when it’s ready.

We started with Guinea Fowl Chi Shiang rice

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Taiwanese Fried Chicken with Hot Sauce

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40 Day Rump Aged With White Soy Sauce

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And Eryngii Mushroom and Century Egg before moving onto the Bao.
We started with The Classic (not pictured due to insatiable hunger).
Which was Braised Pork with Peanut Powder, Fermented Greens and Coriander.

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Then ate the Lamb shoulder Bao with Coriander Sauce, Garlic Mayo and Soy Pickled Chilli (which was my absolute favourite!)

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Before moving onto the Confit Pork Belly with Pork Sauce, Hot Sauce and Dried Shallots

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The Soy Milk Marinated Chicken with Sichuan Mayo, Golden Kimchi and Sesame Bao.

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When asking S what he thought it he could only reply with a smile and the words “sooo good!”

After that we were pretty much full to the brim, but there was no way we could leave without trying dessert, Fried Horlicks Ice Cream Bao: Horlicks Ice-cream, Condensed Milk and Fried Bao. A sweet Bao fried until crisp filled with gorgeous creamy malty goodness.

The prices for the dishes vary between £3 and £6 per dish so if you’re not sure what to order, you can afford to be experimental.

Would I go to Bao in London again?

Abso-bladdy-lutely.
This place truly does have the Bao-Factor!