Bao

Posted on Monday, 9th November 2015

BAO

Bao, the Taiwanese sensation that is the talk of Soho, was everything that I expected it to be and more. Bao serves BAOs, Chinese steamed buns with a variety of fillings plus a number of other Taiwanese specialties. It’s a no frills kinda place, simply decorated, tiny and cramped with little wooden stools. Yet all this matters not when you taste the sensational flavours that Bao dishes up. Little wonder that there are constant queues lasting for upwards of an hour out front.

Bao came from humble beginnings, more specifically from a Taiwanese trio in their twenties (including a brother and sister). The three first set up a food stall in North-East London and quickly gained a loyal following. Enter, the Sethi family as backers, the people behind the Michelin starred Trishna, Gymkhana and Lyle’s, and Bao on Lexington Street was born.

Everything was really, really good, but the classic bao (£3.75) with slow braised pork belly, preserved vegetables and peanut powder was my favourite. The pork was superbly tender with a lovely sweet tenderness to it. The bun was light, airy and sweet, and I loved the aroma and nuttiness that the peanut powder provided. Finally, the preserved vegetables added a touch of acidity to cut through some of the richness of the pork. This was nothing short of spectacular.

BAO - London Food Blog - Classic bao

BAO – Classic bao

This was closely followed by my next two favourites of aged beef rump cap with white soy sauce (£6) and the Taiwanese fried chicken (£5) with hot sauce. The beef was beautifully tender and delivered oodles of flavour. Simply put, it was a joy to eat. As for the chicken, this was scrumptious as well, especially with the wonderful hot sauce. The coating was really crunchy with a wonderful umami flavour, and the chicken was moist and juicy.

Bao - London Food Blog - Fried chicken

Bao – Fried chicken

I loved the sweet potato chips (£3) with their crunchy batter and soft, sweet centre. Also delicious was the scallop with yellow bean garlic (£3.50). The scallop was succulent and nicely cooked, and the yellow bean garlic provided a nice contrast to the scallop without overpowering it.

BAO - London Food Blog -  Sweet potato fries

BAO – Sweet potato fries

Bao - London Food Blog - Scallop

Bao – Scallop with yellow bean garlic

We also tried the confit pork belly bao (£4.50) with pork sauce. Again the meat was tender and delicious, but I personally preferred the condiments and the flavour of the marinade more in the classic bao than those in the confit bao.

BAO - London Food Blog -  Confit pork bao

BAO – Confit pork bao

Finally, to the trotter nuggets with burnt green chilli sauce (£4). Moreish with a crunchy coating, the trotter filling was succulent and moist. However I felt the burnt green chilli sauce was a little harsh with the nuggets and that a sweater sauce would have worked better.

BAO - London Food Blog -  Trotter nuggets

BAO – Trotter nuggets

In summary, Bao was nothing short of glorious. It’s more of a grab your food, eat and run, rather than a sit down and linger type dining experience. One could say it’s fast food, but how fast having to wait an hour for a table is debatable! But the long queues are understandable and justified because the food really is wonderful and will keep you wanting more.

SUMMARY INFORMATION:
Likes:

1. Top favourites were the classic bao, the beef and the fried chicken.
2. Hmmm the sweet potato fries were good too. In fact all the food was really enjoyable.

Dislikes:
1. No real criticisms, but I would have preferred a sweeter sauce with the trotter nuggets.

Food rating: 4.5/5
Prices: About £20 to £25 a head.

Website: http://www.bao-london.com/

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