Bao has been the talk of the instagram London foodie culture for a while now and every time I have seen one of those steamed milk buns rammed full of juicy tender meat my stomach has growled, loudly, I knew it was only a question of time. I love small tasty dishes from all nationalities, ranging from the noble pork pie, beloved by British picnickers and Boxing day teatimers to steaming bamboo baskets arriving at my table filled with Chinese Dim Sum. You know that to have stood the test of time, as a small picky bit, it’s going to be good. And so did half of London, tales abounded of a wait time stood in a queue of an hour and a half. So I came up with an evil plan, I would arrive early for lunch. I arrived quarter of an hour before Bao opened. There was a queue. But I had a feeling I would just about get in on the first round, even though Bao is very small but beautifully formed restaurant. As your waiting in the queue the waiters come and give you the menu for you to peruse, which is a genius idea. Again like the restaurant the menu is minimalist, which I think is a good think, it allows them to be very good at what they do. Bao was selling their Taiwanese buns as street food so to make the transition to a full blown restaurant is quite a step and its good to see they stick to what they know. This is the bun menu, I want them all, and this is the Xiao Chi menu, meaning ‘small eats’. It was difficult to decide but I thought I would start my new taste bud adventure with a classic Bao, consisting of braised pork, peanut powder and fermented coriander, it was, delicious.Next I decided on trotter nuggets, which were just slightly sticky, moist and gloriously porky. Then in an act of daring I decided to add a lamb Bao to my meal, succulent lamb shoulder, coriander sauce, garlic mayo and a soy pickled chili, it was sticky and sweet yet garlicky and savoury with that lovely freshness of coriander and a hint of warmth, bliss on a plate. Bao only do one dish of sweetness, Horlicks ice cream in a fried bao. I had to ask how to eat it and was advised to pick it up like it was ice cream in a wafer, this was an excellent idea. I got to nibble a little bit of the hot caramelized sweet, sweet bun whilst greedily licking the Horlicks ice cream as it melted from the heat. It was genius, cold and hot, sweet, creamy and malty and very satisfying.
Would I go back, absolutely, it was a lovely, lovely treat.