London Steamed Bun Lovers Get a Second Chance to Take a Bao
Bao, a small Taiwanese restaurant that instantly became one of London's most popular dining destinations, will add a second branch, little more than a year after opening for the first time.
Bao opened in April 2015, and its popularity quickly saw would-be diners queuing down the street.
The new Bao, on Windmill Street, in London's Fitzrovia, is scheduled to open in May, featuring a similar formula of inexpensive Chinese snacks and steamed buns, along with new sharing dishes. There will be the same no-reservations policy, but more seats: 47 (with another 10 planned for outside) compared with the former 26. There will also be a greatly expanded drinks list, with cocktails and Champagne.
"We were overwhelmed by the success of Bao Soho, but the small space always meant we would be restricted in the dishes we could offer," said Wai Ting Chung, who started Bao as a street-food stall with her brother, Shing Chung, and his wife, chef Erchen Chang. "Taking on a new site allows us to cook a new exciting range of dishes and a different environment in which to experience Bao."
The success might have been a surprise if it weren't for the backers: JKS Restaurants. That's the company of Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, whose restaurants include Gymkhana, the Indian establishment in Mayfair that won the best in the U.K. title in its first year; and Hoppers, a Sri Lankan cafe in Soho where there are queues of more than two hours for a table. JKS also owns Trishna, and backs Bubbledogs — serving Champagne and hot dogs — Kitchen Table and Lyle's.
Bao's Fitzrovia menu will feature snacks such as cured ribcap, pickles and fermented chili bean dip; beef cheek and tendon sausage; oysters with green chili pickle; and crispy bird's feet with hot sauce. Sharing dishes will include crab, rice broth; and ox heart with Sichuan dressing. Chi Shiang rice bowls will include beef shortrib with scallop and beef tea and baby garlic; and octopus with bottarga.
Bao Fitzrovia will be at 31 Windmill Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 2JN.
Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines