It’s like a Bao down on the London street food scene at the moment, with these little steamed wonders appearing to be having a moment in the spotlight.
With so many Korean spots to visit, it sure can get a little overwhelming/bamboozling and no matter how much you say you’re going to visit all the places on your list, we all know it probably won’t happen. The Bao popup I visited recently however, is one of those places that deserves priority status on anyone’s restaurant list.
Bam Boo, owned and ran by Kuleen and Jack, is a new Asian fusion street food company based in London. Starting off life touring on a street food stall, Bam Boo has just launched a residency at the O Bar in Soho.
Serving up bao in a bar, cocktails are obviously a must to accompany the feast and with happy hour between 5 and 8pm it’s a no brainer – the Blue Hawaiian our favourite, an exotic mix of pineapple and coconut with a potent instagrammable blue colour.
The Bam Boo menu is pretty simple with it’s main focus being bao. Featuring three different bao (2 meat, 1 vegetarian), three sides and two salad dishes to accompany the bao, you would think that choices would be made easier, but you still want to try everything.
If you’re like me, the ‘Bamboozler’ is the way to go – a HUGE feast served on bamboo tray, with two of each bao and all the salads and sides. And when I say a feast…I mean an un-bao-lievably HUGE banquet…
The Miso Mushroom Bao, served with pickled gherkins and crunchy crispy onions were earthy in flavour with a sweet edge, and were absolutely delicious. I’d never had vegetarian bao before but after these I will most definitely consider them more in future.
The Hoisin Pulled Pork Bao were Alex’s favourite. Rich and tender pulled pork, with pickled gherkins and a crunchy peanut topping, they had a smoky depth to them and a fab mix of textures.
Bam Boo’s Famous Peanut, Lime and Ginger Slaw was so good, I might have eaten the whole pot to myself. Whoops. Sorry not sorry. Fresh, crunchy slaw in a light yet creamy dressing with a slightly zingy edge (the ginger wasn’t overpowering in the slightest), this dish was also served with a crumbly peanut topping. I think this could quite possibly be the best slaw I’ve ever had – a fantastic mix of fresh flavours and textures.
The Korean Glazed Hot Wings were tender and juicy, thickly coated in sauce. Each small bite a welcome spicy kick of heat, these are definitely one for the spice lovers and a must for any Korean feast.
The Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bao, filled with tender yet crispy, flavoursome chicken fillets, a mayo based sauce and lettuce reminded me a little of a McChicken Sandwich, but better – obviously.
It might not have made our top choices but you could see why it’s one of the most popular dishes on the menu.
The Salt and Ichimi Squid, served as lightly coated and seasoned bites, were delicious. Accompanied by a citrus lemon dip which tasted a bit like aioli, they were a seriously tasty light accompaniment to all the bao options.
The Chilli-Garlic Edamame was another of my faves. Smothered in a light tomato chilli sauce, they had plenty of flavour and a nice heat to them, but the freshness of the edamame still shone through. A fantastic side dish. Utterly moreish.
The Finger Licking Lotus Root Crisps with Matcha Salt were a great appetiser too. Thin and crisp, and lightly salted, we kept them for nibbling on when we couldn’t quite handle any more of our bao feast, but could still fit in one or two of these.
Even though we had our favourites, the whole menu was creative and really well thought out, with flavours and textures which worked so well together.
At only £35 for the Bamboozler, which is a banquet for two, and probably plenty for 3 people, it’s really well priced for a spot in Piccadilly. If you’re not feeling a full-blown feast you can order the sides, appetisers and bao individually, or you can get 2 bao with a salad for £8 – perfect for one! Service was friendly and efficient too.
Have you got a favourite place for bao?
*I was invited along to try the menu at Bam Boo. All views my own.