Bao is so goddamn cute. Everything is tiny! The mugs, teapots, plates and of course the steamed buns. Without their ceremonial gentleness the staff behind the counter might just break the intricate clayware and spoil the perfectly timed mini-servings of tea. A miniature glass for my can of cold Taiwanese beer. A petite wet wipe for after the meal, all branded to absolute perfection with Bao’s uniquely recognizable designs.
I haven’t seen such a buzz about a new restaurant since the opening of Lyle’s. However, as opposed to James Lowe’s joint, Bao in Lexington Street had lunchtime queues on their first day. At 1pm sharp! It is feasible that the beautiful spring weather had something to do with it, but seriously, wow.
I wasn’t brave enough to face the pig blood cake or trotter nuggets – bit much for my lunchtime stomach – I shall return with sufficient liquid bravery in the evening. Instead I went for the holy trinity, slow cooked pork belly, fried chicken and a scallop in a delicious bean and garlic jus. Everything a boy needs.
As somebody who passes thousands of tourists trapped on Gerrard Street every evening I am convinced that Bao is exactly the sort of cuisine that London desperately needs. It offers a kind of experience that we as citizens of the capital deserve to offer to the tourists visiting our streets – to show them what our city is capable of instead of torturing them with the horrors of Chinatown and leaving them with completely the wrong impressions. If I wasn’t so lazy and hypocritical I would start handing out flyers already!
If you never had a steamed bao bun you haven’t lived. Fluffy, sticky, light and sweet, covered in peanut powder and a rich and succulent pork bbq sauce. It really is a special thing and one of a kind.
Bao is freakin’ popular and for good reasons. Try and get in there and spend 20 quid to tick it off your bucket list. Because it is on your bucket list.
[8.5/10] Bao, 53 Lexington Street, W1F 9AS London