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31 Windmill Street
020 3011 1632
Hot on the heels of Bao Soho, this second restaurant sticks to the blueprint: contemporary Taiwanese small plates served in an intimate dining space. In contrast to Soho, Fitzrovia’s open kitchen, as well as a bar nestled in the middle of a giant sharing table, results in a more dynamic and inclusive dining experience. After ticking off our choices on the paper menu, we ate our way through a steady stream of served-when-ready dishes. Xiao-chi (appetisers) include crispy prawn heads dipped in mayonnaise and fried chicken chop, served alongside egg yolk and hot sauce. The famed soft-steamed buns don’t disappoint and the confit pork belly option, paired with crispy shallots and soy-pickled chilli, gets the flavour and spice balance just right. A concise list of cocktails named after Taiwanese films offers the perfect accompaniment to this affordable comfort food. If you have room for dessert (these are deceptively filling small plates), a refreshing chocolate and toasted rice milkshake ably offsets the flavour-packed mains. Servers on our visit were knowledgeable and attentive, but with bookings only taken for groups of at least four, you’ll probably be queuing to get in – Bao’s greatest drawback is its own popularity.
Best in Fitzrovia
SquareMeal 2 Stars
31 Windmill Street
020 3011 1632
Goodge Street Tube Station 233m
Tottenham Court Road Tube Station 390m
Odeon Tottenham Court Road 116m
Contemporary Applied Arts 124m
Mon-Sat 12N-3pm 5.30-10pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Coming from Hong Kong, I used to go to Taipei 3 or 4 times a year just to eat - their night market is famous for the great variety of street food and it’s very good value for money too. BAO manages to bring the flavours to London, but in a glorified version. The pork belly bao stole the show - the bao was fluffy and soft, and the pork belly was juicy and had just the right amount of fat. Overall a really good spot for satiating your craving for Taiwanese food.
It was definitely going to be a comparison between both the Baos. That was why I had to think about which and why was it that I preferred one to the other. Was it the first because it set the precedence? Or was it the second because the second lived up to it? It was a bit of both. The style of food was very similar. I felt I enjoyed the first Bao because it gave a better insight to what they could do beyond baos. On the other hand, I also enjoyed the second Bao because of their unique combination of dishes and flavours. Having slept on the matter, I preferred my first Bao experience. But with the two outlets, where would be your first Bao experience?
And that was why Bao is good. Not only the food wow-ed but it kept different aspects of conversation going. Well done, and I hope to see what is coming next!
beef cheek and tendon nuggets £4.00 – just as I knew Bao would do a good deep fry, the nuggets were meaty, compact with meat and in a way I didn't mind if they were not as perfectly shaped. It was a good first dish to remind me of Bao.
crispy prawn heads £4.75 – growing up in an Asian family who chew and suck the juices of crustaceans, I did not find any speciality to this dish but I find that I can eat prawn heads without being judged!
fried chicken chop, hot sauce £6.00 – good, well seasoned fried chicken in a yolky hot sauce. It's really difficult to share the dish!
raw langoustine, dulse, aged soy, oyster leaf £5.00 – my favourite. The flesh was so juicy that I thought I tasted mango. Forget all the baos now, serve only this to me!
tomatoes, plum powder £2.75 – I was reluctant to order this dish because to be honest, it was just tomatoes. They probably use the best cherry tomatoes but it is still tomatoes, right? Pairing it with the plum powder, I find, was genius! The plum powder is so commonly used in Malaysia to dip with fruits and, tomatoes are fruits, right?
sanbei octopus £6.00 – good texture to the octopus and I enjoyed the sauce that it was marinated in.
beef shortrib, marrow, eryngii £6.75 – a slight let down compared to the rest of the dishes and to their original guinea fowl in the first Bao.
The baos were consistently good. The fluffiness of the buns, the taste of the filling and the presentation were maintained across all three of their outlets. Having their baos now, I thought that their buns were a little too fluffy. I would like my bread with more texture and not just to deflate when I take my bite.
classic bao (braised pork, ferment coriander and peanuts) £4.00
bao confit (pork belly, crispy shallots hot sauce) £4.50
bao lamb (shoulder, green sauce, soy pickled chilli) £5.00
bao cod (fried cod, ng sauce, hot sauce) £5.00 – it was a good bao. Black looking food is very appealing. Clever twist.
Average spend on food per person: £30.00 - £35.00
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