Bao built up quite a formidable reputation for their steamed buns at local markets before the Gymkhana restaurant backers put them into their bricks and mortar location in Soho.
Six months on, there’s still a long line waiting outside the restaurant for the chance to sample the menu of small plates. Yes, even in the open in mid winter. My tip is to arrive 15 minutes before opening time to beat this queue.
Perhaps to reflect their street food roots, you order on little slips. So many interesting things and at reasonable prices too. The small plate revolution has seemed to give some restaurants the license to charge high prices for ridiculously small portions of food but not here.
I’ve made a few visits and here are the dishes I’ve tried so far. Peanut milk is just that – a bit malty and nutty but gone in a few gulps.
I love their deep fried food. The trotter nuggets just wins out over the Taiwanese fried chicken. They’ve perfected the art of a wonderful crunch on the outside while retaining a moist meaty interior.
A giant scallop came in a yellow bean sauce, which was potent but didn’t overwhelm the sweet scallop.
Then, we cone to the baos. In order, below, we have the fried chicken bao, confit pork bao and lamb shoulder bao. They’ve made an effort to differentiate between the baos. I think my favourite is probably the lamb shoulder, which packs the bigger flavour punch.
The only dessert on the menu is a must order. Fried Horlicks ice cream is actually Horlicks ice cream sandwiched between toasted buns.
Bao is great. Street food prices for yummy street food. I just hope their backers reward them with bigger premises. That queue is the only downside.
Food: ★★★★★ Service: ★★★★★ Ambiance: ★★★★☆ VFM: ★★★★★ Overall: ★★★★★
Price: Great value small plates place
53 Lexington Street, Soho, London W1F 9AS