For me, London’s Soho is quite possibly the best square mile in the world for the most amazing and memorable places to eat.
last week I finally got the chance to dine at Bao Soho and after a few failed attempts I finally managed to get inside and experience why they are the favourite of anyone who loves to eat.
Something you have to understand about Bao is that queuing in inevitable.
Tucked amongst some of the quietest streets in Soho, Bao has a such a great reputation for delicious, outstanding flavours and this is mirrored into the bus stop like queue that forms at all times when they are open.
Strategically I made my way over to Bao before they begun their evening service (5:30 pm) and already there was quite a substantial queue across from the restaurant, which grew with every passing commuter.
Passers-by were asking us what we were queuing for as we stood Glaring like zombies, hungry for Bao. As 5:30 came we were handed menu’s from a member of staff dressed in a clean white duster coat which completed the restaurants clean pine Muji-like interior. we sat at the teppanyaki style bar which is central to the dining room and allows for a broad view of the restaurant. Bao is quite small but its communal style eating, which I find has become more and more popular amongst eateries in London, allows for quite a comfortable experience.There’s nothing like bonding with strangers over GOOD FOOD! Whether you’re alone for a quick indulgence before your commute home or in a big group of friends, anything goes.
My friend and I started with a milk foam tea which was made directly in front of us and a miniature pot of 10 year aged, oolong.
The menu was clean and simple with a small description of each dish, separated into three categories Xiao Chi (small eats), Bao, and Sides. We began ticking box by box, enticed by their promises, and once we took our first few bites we decided it was probably best if we tried absolutely everything ( we’re both chefs so we can totally call this market research).
The food was just incredible, I started with a crystal clear beef broth, full of flavour and depth with a few batons of daikon floating beneath the surface.I followed with their soft pillowy bao filled with succulent lamb shoulder, soy pickled chilli, adorned with a thigh glossy coriander sauce which quite possibly changed my life. And another one, and another one, this time, braised pork, peanut powder and fermented greens (One of their most iconic).
We chose a few sides of battered sweet potato fries which were dressed with a pickled plum ketchup and were just divine. we also tasted the pig blood cake at the recommendation of my Taiwanese friend which was a hard sell to someone like me who HATES blood pudding but was tasted quite pleasant with its yolky crown.
The absoloute star had to be the aged beef rump cap with aged white soy.The flavours were just incredible, the beef perfectly cooked with its melt in the mouth flesh layered in a shallow pool of white soy. This was the best beef i had ever tasted!!!
Almost an hour later of eating and drinking we finally got around to the Horlicks ice cream deep fried bao. Now this we were warned by the servers could not be shared.Not wanting to be proven wrong I politely shared this amazingly golden bun filled with creamy malt ice cream without a gladiator-style fight to the death with my dinner guest.
Not IF but WHEN you get down to Bao I recommend 1. Sit at the bar out of sight of the growing queues of people waiting for you to leave so they can finally get in and enjoy. Great food must not be rushed and 2. Take their advice and order a Horlicks bao each, They really are impossible to share!