Bao London has, as of September 2016, only been open for about 14 months so you might say that they jumped on the Bao craze a little late. But MY GOD aren’t they the perfect example of someone who comes late into the scene, only to set a new standard.
It all started as a distant love affair on Instagram. My wife had discovered them, and as a graphic designer she fell in love at first sight with their branding. So we both followed them.
But as our timelines started to show bao after bao, the love affair became an obsession. For each image, whether it was a picture of their food or their elegant interiors, we just wanted more.
When I wrote about the history and future of the Gua bao, I had to include Bao London as one of the most interesting bao eateries in Europe. I just knew how good it was. I could feel it.
Quick Facts About BAO London
BAO started off as a market stall in April 2013. A couple months in, the six seater BAO BAR was built in a car park in Hackney. It opened its first permanent restaurant in Soho in 2015 and BAO in Fitzrovia in 2016. They specialize in steamed buns which they handmake daily.
So: fast-forward to last week, when we went to London.
We literally left our hotel in Picadilly within minutes. We simply couldn’t start our London trip without having our first meal at Bao London. It was like having spent the last year in a distance relationship, and now you were going to meet. Well, me and my wife have actually been through that so we could actually relate.
The ten minute walk to their SoHo location was done having butterflies on empty stomaches, and after spending just ten minutes in line (by the way, standing in line for food is such an underrated and fun activity) we were inside.
Cereal wrote in their London guide “if the food is top-notch, so too is the space that accompanies it”, when generally describing the places they chose to include. I think this rings so true for BAO.
A small, vibrant place with a buzz that echoes the party in your mouth when you try the different items from their menu. We started out with their classic bao and the confit pork bao, which were simply amazing. We took that as a sign of more awesomeness coming our way since we also ordered the fried chicken and lamb shoulder bao.
The small pause in between servings enabled us to take in the atmosphere even more. We sat near the counter where the waiters picked up the orders to serve. I observed the kitchen staff working through the counter window. Everything just flowed meticulously.
Before we knew it, the remainder of our order came to our table. At this point we were dreaming about ordering everything else we saw getting served at the neighbouring tables. But when we took that first bite out of that fried chicken bao, it felt like the whole world disappeared in one crunchy, delicious bite. All the baos we previously had were awesome, but this fried chicken bao is something I could eat forever.
With the fried horlicks ice cream bao to top off as dessert, it’s a god damn understatement to say that we were satisfied. Never has it been so nice to lean back on a chair while rubbing your tummy in pure satisfaction.
All images taken from BAO London’s official Facebook account