When we read about Bao coming to Soho many months back, we were ecstatic! Sometimes, just sometimes, a restaurant lives up to expectations. We knew that Bao would be one such place. This tiny, no-frills Taiwanese steamed-bun and small-plate venture is just genius.
As many new openings these days, it operates a no reservations policy, which does make sense as it has a fast food feel to it and the turn around is rather quick. We only had to wait a mere 20 minutes for a spot, this did not bother us one bit. It may prove difficult to find a 20 minute wait nowadays seeing as the hype has increased! However do try and go at non-peak times to save waiting too long.
The space is small and has one main U-shaped bar with high stools as well as smaller tables towards the back. We sat at the bar and where we are able to enjoy conversing with the staff.
The menu is presented in a tick-list form, great concept in our mind, especially for street food like this. Although we wanted to try EVERYTHING we controlled ourselves and stuck to a couple of the small plates and saved room for the bao.
We settled on the Aubergine with Wonton crisps and the Fried chicken with a fiery sauce. The Aubergine is more like a spread or dip for the crisps, similar to that of baba ganoush but with larger diced aubergine. It was spicy, boy it was spicy. But with the crisps was a great combination. Onto the Chicken. We were amazed at how the coating was both crisp and crumbly and the chicken was truly some of the moistest we have had.
We already knew which bao we were going to have. The classic, confit pork and vegetarian daikon. Each was excellent. The confit pork was a new one for us and we have to say it was our favourite. Sweet and Sour pork belly with crispy shallots nestled in the bao bun, it just oozed with flavour. Our mouths are still salivating. Nothing beats the classic; 4 hour braised pork belly topped with preserved vegetables and peanut shavings, what more can you ask for? The veg bao was also tasty, but lacked depth of flavour and was rather dry, due to no sauce.
Desserts aren’t key here but that didn’t stop us from trying the the Horlicks ice-cream. It comes with a deep-fried bun and was slightly fiddly to share. We ended up taking the buns off and spreading the ice cream on it instead. Didn’t bother us though!
We would easily queue for bao again and are happy that they now have a permanent address!
53 Lexington Street, Soho, W1F 9AS