You know you’ve made it when you open a restaurant on Borough Market. At the north western tip, sat among some of London’s most renowned restaurants, like the seasonal cafe Elliot’s and the Wright Brothers oyster bar, is the latest opening from the Bao team.
If you don’t know, Bao is a Taiwanese eatery originating as a stall in Netil Market. Gathering a cult following that continues to grow, the team decided to spread their wings and share their awesome Asian cuisine with the rest of London. They’ve now opened sites in Soho, Fitzrovia and most recently, Borough Market.
Entering the restaurant feels like walking on to the set of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs movie. The place is kitted out with authentic interiors. All door signs are in Chinese and bespoke Bao posters adorn the wooden bar panels.
Bao Borough has an entirely different menu to its sister restaurants, and is inspired by the late-night grill establishments of Asia. There’s new Bao on the menu including the Curry Cheese Bao, a must in our books, alongside other small and larger plates.
We start with a couple of cocktails. The Bao-Hi is my preferred choice, a whisky based cocktail made with salted citrus cordial, bitters and soda, and my friend tries the New-Bipp-Hi, a gin based cocktail made with kiwi sake, mandarin bitters and soda.
We munch on Classic Bao, Chicken Nugget Bao and the aforementioned Curry Cheese Bao. The Classic is just that. Braised pork soaked in peanut sauce and sprinkled with ground peanuts, all squashed into a pillowy bun soft enough to lay your head on.
It could be argued the Chicken Nugget Bao is another classic as it proves a popular choice in Soho too. The Curry Cheese Bao is all new levels of insanity; a deep fried square of cheddar encased in a classic fluffy bun and doused in sweet curry sauce. It’s traditional in Taiwan to use American cheese but we think the cheddar works so well… must be the British in us!
Alongside our Bao, we munch on Chilli Chicken Wings, Cold Smoked Aubergine with panko fried Bao and 40 Day Aged Beef with Taipei Butter Rice. This particular style of rice is very traditional of Taiwanese cuisine. We could smell the rich buttery scent wafting past our table as vats of the stuff were carried to the kitchen.
The Yu Shiang Boiled Egg stole the show. It’s a soft boiled egg coated in a secret recipe sauce – we asked what’s in it and received a coy smile in return – but we can confirm it’s a stroke of smokey, spicy genius. It’s finished off with shavings of Lincoln cheese from Bao’s new neighbours, Neal’s Yard.
For dessert, we share the milk tea ice cream with strawberries. If you’re partial to a cuppa, this ones for you.
Bao Borough was full of life, customers spilled through the doors as the night went on and staff were ever so friendly giving the place such an energetic atmosphere. Not to mention the Kaorake room downstairs, which whilst waiting for the loo, you can peer in and enjoy punters attempting to hit those high notes that they will most certainly regret the next morning (loss of voice pending).
To book a table for 5 people or more, visit their website here.
13 Stoney Street