The ever-popular Bao (which already has sites in Fitzrovia and Soho) now has a third location right by Borough Market. It has branched out in its food offering as well as its location; instead of just bao buns, guests are able to enjoy various dishes from the grill, as well as late-night noodle plates with a bunch of accompaniments. What's more, there will also be a hatch at the front of the restaurant serving grab-and-go dishes to take away later on in the year.
But everyone is really here for the signature buns, with two recommended per person alongside two-to-three sides, ticked off on the laminated menu cards and brought out as and when they are ready by efficient, informal staff.
Stand-outs include Taiwanese fried chicken served with hot sauce - crunchy, fiery and finger-lickingly indulgent - and the spiced butter scallops, a touch of luxury in an otherwise casual meal. The signature buns didn’t disappoint either, and although the classic bao (braised pork with peanut powder) is a solid winner, it’s nothing compared to the chicken nugget bao, which comes complete with hot sauce and Sichuan mayo.
Our only draw-back? The cocktails didn't impress; stick instead to the sake or grab a couple of Bao Oolong Lagers - just the thing to get your vocal cords lubricated ahead of belting out a power ballad in the 12-seater karaoke room in the restaurant’s basement (also to open later in the year). True to Asia's late-night bars, the room is decorated in monochrome tiles and multi-coloured disco lights.
With bookings only available for groups of five or more, queueing is still likely, but with diners seated elbow-rubbingly close to one another, you can't say they don't find room for as many customers as possible, though despite the close quarters, the mirrored walls, skylight and open kitchen mean it doesn't feel too cramped. And with prices kept refreshingly low, your wallet will be (nearly) as happy as your belly when you leave.