When is there EVER not a queue at Bao?
Ok, so for all you guys not Bao educated, Bao is an extremely popular little Tawianese restaurant specialising in Bao – Taiwanese milk steamed buns – and other inventive Taiwanese Eats. It made this year’s list of Time Out’s best restaurants, the ones everyone has to visit when in London, and it’s easy to see why.
I was out for a day of photo shoots with a friend when we wandered past Bao just after lunchtime. It was about 2pm, and the minute we realised that there was absolutely no queue (ok we probably waited like 2 minutes for the table to be cleared), we just had to go in.
I’d been wanting to go to Bao for ages, but with it currently being winter I don’t like the thought of waiting out in the freezing cold for an hour or two, no matter how good the food is. So I was super excited.
We sat down at the bar, ordered two diet cokes and asked about recommended portion sizes – Bao recommend two Bao per person and perhaps a couple sides to share.
Both being indecisive, my friend decided that we needed to try one of EVERYTHING. So we ordered one each, of the four different Bao (Classic, Confit Pork, Fried Chicken & Lam Shoulder), a side of Taiwanese Fried Chicken with Hot Sauce, a side of House Pickles (I chose this, intrigued as to what it would be) and a side of Aged Beef Rump Cap, with Aged White Soy Sauce.
The dishes come out as and when they’re ready. From our order, the Aged Beef Rump Cap came first.
Drizzled in soy, it was rich, tender and extremely flavoursome. It definitely vanished too quickly. The pickles weren’t far behind, presented artistically, each of the vegetables was slightly crunchy and nicely pickled.
The fried chicken was soon to follow. This was incredible. Slightly crispy, not at all greasy, super tender inside, and drizzled with a tasty hot sauce which gave each piece a slight kick, these were definitely one of my favourite things about the meal. So good in fact, we had to order a second portion as the first portion was soon gone.
The Bao were delivered to our table pretty swiftly too – with a little space between each.
They were all extremely flavoursome, with incredible combinations of flavours and textures.
I think the classic might have been my favourite. Rich with a great depth of flavour, the meat was more of a finely minced texture, with a sauce which complimented it well, all served in a light squidgy Taiwanese bun.
The chicken one was another fave – the fried chicken itself a lot like the bites we had as a side dish, but it was served in a light fluffy bun, unlike the classic Bao. No, don’t think fried chicken burger, it’s not at all like that, it’s way more sophisticated!
After making our way through three of the Bao, at which point I was extremely stuffed, my friend decided to ask one of the women from the team at Bao what her favourite dish was, which resulted in us ordering some of the trotter nuggets!
These were insanely good. Really rich, with a greater depth of flavour to the fried chicken, they were super yummy. Again, slightly crisp on the outside, and tender in the middle, they were extremely moreish!
I couldn’t quite finish my last bao, but don’t worry my friend finished it for me! In fact, EVERYTHING was devoured.
We had such an amazing lunch at Bao – the food was absolutely delicious and the service friendly and efficient. Our bill came to between £70 and £80 including service, which isn’t too bad for the amount of food we ordered, and the standard of each dish!
I’m definitely going back at some point. I might even consider it even if there is a queue outside – I’ll make sure I’m armed with a hot drink to keep me warm 😛
Have you tried Bao yet? What’s your favourite Bao?