Funny how little pillowy white buns can be talked about (and Instagrammed) so much. But these ‘bao’ (Taiwanese steamed buns) are no ordinary buns. Perhaps you only understand the hype once you’ve been, which means fully dedicating yourself to ‘the queue’. Which is always substantial, and always a guaranteed long wait, because the Lexington Street Bao is tiny. Except now, with Bao’s second opening in Fitzrovia, which offers a much larger space (this is all relative of course), the queues are also much more manageable. Or maybe I got lucky, as I only queued about 15 mins (on a Wednesday evening at 7pm).
The flagship Bao opened last year to rave reviews (though they still have a permanent stall at Netil Market), and while desperate to go, my few attempts were immediately aborted having seen a row of people snake around the corner with no end in sight. I’m impatient, and while I’m always willing to wait for food which is clearly off the charts delicious, there are limits. The 15 minute Fitzrovia wait was more than manageable, and I was very surprised as we were ushered in so quickly (yes, I felt quite smug). My speedy entrance made the food taste even better.
The three of us ordered a good section of the menu, and only left things like duck hearts which pushes the boat out a little too far for me. But we did dare try the crispy prawn heads (which were indeed crispy, and tasty), and the raw langoustines (which were very slippery, but also delicious). We opted for two bao each, the classic of course (pulled pork, heaven in a mouthful) and then the black cod for Steph and the lamb for Emily and I. They were both delightful – but I can totally see how the Black Cod has become one of their most popular dishes (it’s photogenic too). Apart from that the sweet corn dish with surprisingly good, I loved their aubergine and rice (too moorish for words) and their octopus was succulent and fiery. It was all really really good.
The service was excellent, friendly, quick, helpful. The (Austrian) house wine surprisingly fine (though the tiny glasses do add up price wise). And the décor, simple with clean lines, is given the food you’re eating.
I’m going back, though unfortunately I know I won’t be the only one.
31 Windmill St,
London W1T 2JN
Photo credit: Bao