Inventive Taiwanese Restuarant in Fitzrovia
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : Taiwanese
Address : 31 Windmill St, Fitzrovia, London , W1T 2JN, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.baolondon.com
Opening Times : Mon-Sat: 12pm-3pm; 5.30pm-10pm
Closest Tube : Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road
Taiwanese milk buns. Last year they were a mouthful. This year they‘re a religion. That‘s how trends play out in London. They either hang fire or flash in the pan, and bao nearly was the latter, because it wasn‘t good enough. Luckily, BAO was… First, as a stall, it took Broadway Market by storm, attracting weekend warrior acolytes willing to brave a 45 minute queue in the driving sleet. Then, with the help of Karam Sethi and JKS restaurants, BAO staged a coup on Soho and went from pop-up to permanence, magnetising the same conga line queues. And now, only a quick pair of years after originally launching, Erchen Chang and Shing Tat and Wai Ting Chung, have done exactly the same with a larger format restaurants in the burgeoning foodie neighbourhood of Fitzrovia.
The restaurant is split over two levels with two rather interesting seating arrangements. Upstairs, the room could have been poached from a Copenhagen café, with an abundance of light woods and natural light coming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows. However, the piece de resistance is the horseshoe shaped bar that swoops around a busy cadre of chefs tweezing and dabbing the dishes into working order. Downstairs it‘s a bit more dimly lit, with counter dining overlooking the kitchens in a way that recalls Kitchen Table.
Orders are taken crazy golf style with stubby pencils and a paper menu on which you tick off your selections. We opted for a couple of classic bao buns and a new one, packed with black cod (with a funky black skin/carapace) with Ng sauce and hot sauce. There are lots of delightful little dishes to pick through. A smoked chicken broth was served with crispy chicken skin. It was simple, elegant and oh so much more than a broth. Same applies to the tomato salad with plum powder. Every once in a while you‘d get a pickled tomato grenade tucked away in the mix, which detonates with flavour.
There are some more outré selection for the brave of heart. Raw duck hearts for one, served with chilli garlic sauce, which pop with a deep offal depth. On the other side of the spectrum, raw langoustine with dulse, aged soy an oyster leaf nods to Noma with its subtle sophistication. There‘s a selection of rice bowls on the menu that are worth dipping into, as well as a beautiful fried chicken chop served with hot sauce and a cured egg yolk. We rounded the meal off with a pair of milkshakes - one made from condensed milk, the other from chocolate and toasted rice - both very good indeed.
BAO Fitzrovia continues a number of things: JKS‘s midas touch approach with restaurants. The ascendancy of both bao and BAO. And the intrepid culinary pioneering of Erchen Chang and Shing Tat and Wai Ting Chung. Onwards and upwards.