Bao is a modern restaurant in the heart of Soho that serves small Taiwanese dishes. The restaurant was intimate and clean featuring both bar seating and table seating. There is was a small queue outside of the restaurant and it only took around ten minutes for us to be seated. The menu was small and you order is like a Chinese dim sum restaurant, you write the quantity next the the dish you want.
The Bao menu includes “Xiao Chi” which translates to “little eats”, “bao”, and “sides”. You are also able to purchase Bao tote bags and t-shirts if you like collecting restaurant souvenirs, this is available to you.
The first thing we ordered the beef soup and braised daikon from the “Xiao Chi” section. At first glance, it looked okay. It was a small bowl of dark liquid with a few rectangles of veg floating in it.
I’m going to be honest, it was not very good. The beef soup had no beef in it, so that was a little disappointing. Taiwanese beef soup has beef 99% of the time so I expected at least a bite of meat. Not only that, the soup was incredibly salty. However, there was a nice beef flavour, I won’t deny that but there was just too much salt. Not only that, the daikon didn’t really add any flavour so it wasn’t really that interesting to eat. There is so much you can do with daikon and unlocking the flavour is something that was lacking in this particular dish. I wouldn’t really recommend this soup to anyone and to be frank, you’re better off saving 3.5 quid. I would rate this particular dish a 3/10.
The next dish was the Taiwanese Fried Chicken with Hot Sauce from the “Xiao Chi” section. I was still hopeful after the beef soup because this place has such high reviews and it was good. The coating on the outside was crispy and the chicken was tender on the inside. What stood out for me was actually the hot sauce. I usually don’t have sauce with my Taiwanese fried chicken because it is already aromatic and bursting with flavour. The dish Bao served was not as flavourful as the fried chicken you would get in Taiwan but it’s close. The hot sauce made up for the lack of aromatic flavour and brought in a bit of spiciness to lift the dish. This was a huge step up from the first “Xiao Chi” and got me excited to try more.
The Taiwanese fried chicken is priced at £6.5 which is steep for the small amount of chicken on the plate. I would honestly recommend that unless you desperately want to try Taiwanese fried chicken, don’t go for this. It is lovely and tastes good but I don’t think its worth the price point and it doesn’t hold up to authentic Taiwanese fried chicken. But hey, it’s London. Everything is a bit more expensive and this restaurant is in Soho so I guess I can’t be too harsh. 5/10
Next were the Baos. The first was the Fried Chicken Bao which featured the same fried chicken from the dish before. It was dressed with kimchi, coriander, and Sichuan mayo. I liked this more than the Xiao Chi version because there were different textures and elements that elevated the experience. The sesame steamed bun was fluffy and moist providing an extra chew to the bao. The kimchi brought in acidity to balance and cut through the richness of the mayo. It is priced at £5.5 and I would give it the same rating:5.5/10
The second was the Classic Bao and it had braised pork, peanut powder, fermented veg, and coriander. This wasn’t very memorable to me. I remember liking the peanut powder because of the fragrance and liking the bao because it was softer than the previous but that is about it. Since I can’t remember much about this dish, I unfortunately cannot give it a rating but I can tell you that it is priced at £5.25.
Bao Soho was okay for a quick bite but definitely not enough for a full meal. If you would like to pop by for a quick snack I might recommend it but personally, I just don’t think that it is worth the price point. As a Taiwanese person, the flavours don’t really meet the expectations that I had. But more importantly to me, London is one of the most “foodie” cities and there are so many daBut if you would like to try some Taiwanese food and you are not able to plan a holiday in Taiwan, coming here for a taste of the cuisine won’t do any harm. I would suggest trying out the Baos and having a swig of Taiwanese beer whilst you’re here.
For all of Bao London’s locations, visit their website here.