Source: Gerber Communications
Restaurants

London Street Food Stars Plan to Open a Serious Taiwanese Restaurant

The folks who made Londoners crazy for £5 steamed buns will offer full-scale, high-end meals in their new place.

The team behind a street-food stand that turned into one of London's must successful new restaurants of the past two years plans to open an up-market establishment in Soho showcasing Taiwanese cuisine.

Xu, from the owners of Bao, will seat 68 diners across two floors, with a menu featuring dishes such as a specialty chicken meal: a bird stuffed with spices and herbs, served whole, with the head still on. Diners will don gloves to tear it apart with their hands. Xu is scheduled to open sometime this spring.

The Xu team: Erchen Chang, Shing Tat Chung, Wai Ting Chung.

Source: Gerber Communications

Expect to spend about £55 ($69) per person including drinks, which is closer to what you'd pay at restaurants such as Hakkasan, the modern Chinese restaurant in Mayfair that has become an international brand. Bao became a hit by offering delicious steamed-bun sandwiches for £5 or less. There are still queues down the street in Soho for the original Bao, while the second branch, in Fitzrovia, is also successful.

Xu is the project of a family team: chef Erchen Chang and her husband, Shing Tat Chung, along with his sister, Wai Ting Chung. The new restaurant is named after Chang's late grandfather. Taiwanese cuisine reflects influences from Japan, Portugal and elsewhere and is served at only a handful of restaurants in London.

"Taiwan cuisine is quite unexplored in London," Chang said. "We are going to serve classic dishes as well as some with street-food influences." There will also be snacks and a tea master—think, a sommelier for tea—with varieties from across Taiwan.

Source: BAO via Bloomberg

A bun at Bao, filled with braised pork, peanut powder, and fermented greens.

Source: BAO

Xu will be paneled with dark wood in the glamorous style of 1930s Taiwan. It's the work of Brady Williams, who designed Fischer's and Bellanger restaurants in London.

JKS Restaurants, owner of the hit Gymkhana and Hoppers restaurants, is backing Xu. The restaurant group helped finance Bao's transition from a street market in East London to its brick-and-mortar sites.

30 Rupert Street, London, W1D 1DL.

Richard Vines is chief food critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines.

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