Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently (or have actual shit to worry about) you’ll have heard of Bao. Literally every single person in the past 2 months has bummed the living daylights out of this place – so I’m prepared for a queue.
For a Friday evening it’s not too bad, and with the help of a G&T in a can (essential queueing material) we’re sat within half an hour.
This is textbook cramped-yet-cosy Soho – I’m not sure you could swing a vole in the dining area let alone a cat. I particularly love the wardrobe that doubles as a lavvy. Sort of.
We poured cans of Gold Medal beer into breakfast buffet glasses and munched house pickles whilst perusing the no-frills menu. This doubles as your order sheet which you fill in and hand to your waitress. Staff are helpful but don’t impose themselves on you. It’s a nicely chilled atmosphere.
Reason number one why Bao is amazing: getting your chops round their signature steamed doughy buns. We devoured fried chicken and lamb shoulder varieties in seconds and developed a crack-like addition that could only be sated by a classic and a confit pork one.
Reason number two: there’s not a dud dish on the menu. Not a one. Sure, the Taiwanese fried chicken is succulent with perfectly bubbly batter; but it’s the rank-sounding stuff that tastes the best.
Have you ever come across a more disgusting sounding thing as trotter nuggets? No you haven’t – and they’re fucking gorgeous. The pig blood cake was easily one of the best things I’ve tasted all year.
And definitely last but not least, reason number three: it’s bargainous.
So much so A and I went for a second round, lining up more baos after slices of aged beef rump cap, then scooping smokey aubergine with wonton crisps into our gobs.
A gingery bowl of chi shiang rice, laced with crispy onions, pickles and succulent slices of guinea fowl rounded off the proceedings very nicely.
I’m the first to deride a no-reservations queue in the pissing rain for what ends up being an £8 wiener (still bitter about Bubbledogs.) But Bao is undoubtedly worth the wait. The only thing I’m gutted about is not being able to try the fried Horlocks ice cream as they’d sold out. Every single dish we ate was a knockout so suck it up, brave the masses and go for the most dubious sounding plates you possibly can.
53 Lexington St, W1F 9AS