Over the last couple of months people have been telling me to visit and check out Bao. Not only that I've read many positive reviews about the place via Facebook and various magazines/websites. Therefore I got off my arse and decided to give Bao a FoodPunk visit.
Located at the end of Lexington Street in Soho, the restaurant is very difficult to miss. Why?. Because from 12-3 or 5:30-10:00 you'll notice a swarm of people queueing up opposite, eager to get a piece of the action.
Admittedly I tried a few weeks ago to get in but with the weather being crappy I wasn't in the mood to wait.
This time around however I was going to make it my mission to eat there regardless. I was planning to go there for lunch and as I said earlier they open from 12-3. But because of my laid back approach I didn't get to the restaurant until 2 and with only an hour left I decided to have a few pints at the pub and had a cheeky tapas lunch at Brindisas waiting for Bao to open again at 5:30.
Luckily Brindisas is only twenty seconds away from Bao but by 4:30 there were already hungry punters loitering outside the restaurant. By five o clock a queue was already starting to form, so I quickly ran across the street so that I wasn't right at the back of the line. I was ready to get inside this much hyped place.
Now before I go on about the restaurant and the food itself, let me stress that so far what you have read is no exaggeration. You really do need to give yourself plenty of time to avoid disappointment.
Bao has an incredible atmosphere due to the fact that there's not much room to manoeuvre. Its tight space and polished wooden interior really gives it a supper club type feel. The staff are an excellent bunch and really do make you feel at home in their tiny abode.
I sat by the kitchen and the amount of dishes flying out was astonishing and it was only ten minutes into service by that point.
The menu is short, concise and very easy to read. The prices for each dish are more than affordable and definitely worth spending the money. If it's your first time going to Bao, fear not, the staff are on hand to tell you how many dishes they recommend you get.
If I wasn't being my greedy self and avoided eating so much at Brindisas, I would have ordered a few more dishes. I still mixed it up a bit and in my opinion ordered cracking food.
Within minutes of ordering, food started to arrive on my table. I highly recommend the guinea fowl rice. Thin tender slices of meat, a runny egg yolk, crispy shallots and fragrant rice, whats not to love? And like I was advised, mix that egg yolk everywhere. Its a real treat.
For something so simple, the beef soup with braised daikon is bloody delicious. It's rich, meaty stock packs so much flavour and the daikon bathing inside just soaks it all up. After one sip I just wanted more and more and before I knew it, there was an empty bowl. Next time I'm gonna order two!
If you want something less heavy to start off with, then the aubergine with the wonton crisp is the perfect alternative. Its light and the aubergine is smoked bang on point allowing the subtle Asian flavours to come through. Oh and if you like a little kick then this dish is for you.
Now for the main event. The Bao's on offer make it difficult to decide which one to pick. Heck you probably could order all of them due to the size of them.
If you're like me and you love fried chicken, Bao's is to die for with a crispy bit of tender chicken lightly coated in hot sauce and sandwiched in between a soft fluffy bun.
I absolutely loved the daikon bao. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and it carried a lot of vibrant flavours.
If you still got room for sides, go for the sweet potato chips. We've all had a soggy sweet potato chip but at Bao's, they're super crispy and the sweet plum ketchup drizzled on top makes it a winner.
Bao is ultimately a cool, funky joint to go to. The menu is short and simple but it delivers in tremendous style. I honestly can't wait to go back there again and hopefully next time try all the different Bao's. Queuing up for half an hour was worth it and I encourage everyone to check it out for themselves.