The owner/chef of cult restaurant Little Bao in Hong Kong May Chow showcased her signature dishes for only 1 week from the 8th – 13th of September 2015 in Soho Kitchen and Bar of Old Compton Street which is owned by Nick Jones . Nick was out in Hong Kong during a business trip seeking venues for new ventures and just so happened to dine in Little Bao and was so impressed he ask May to come over to London and collaborate with him. May boasts some serious credentials having cooked at the likes of Yard Bird , TBLS as well as 3 Michelin starred Bo Innovation and I was lucky enough to check it all out on their first night of opening and boy was it good. And for those who aren’t in the know bao are little burgers that originate from Taiwan, traditionally they come in steamed clam shell like buns with a variety of fillings – these ones are more of your traditional burger shaped variety. My message to May Chow and Nick Jones – please don’t be strangers and let Little Bao have permanent residency in London in the not too distant future!
The menu format is split into 3, for sharing, baos and sweet ending:
The drinks are selected specifically for food matching which is a quality touch.
The Hitachino ale (£6) was refreshing, citrusy and reminded me of the Belgian style IPA’s.
Brussel Sprouts (£6) with fish sauce caramel, chilli, peanut, lime and fried shallots. I tell you what this is the best brussel sprouts dish I have ever eaten and if you had a sprout phobia stemmed from the grey mushy one’s at school that the dinner ladies rammed down your gullet, then a mouthful of these will cure you for life! You get that roasted nutty cabbage flavour, sweetness from the fish sauce caramel, textual peanut crunch and the chilli & lime just lifted all the elements. A real treat to eat and it has given me a totally new outlook on sprouts!
Short-rib pan-fried dumpling (£10) – slow braised short rib with celeriac coleslaw. Best eaten with both components in one mouthful otherwise the dumplings are a bit bland. Cooked beautifully though with the super tender beef and excellent crust on the dumplings.
K-Wings (£7.5) with fermented beancurd and gochujang glaze. You can really taste the fermented, strong flavours from both the ingredients here. Gochujang is a spicy Korean condiment made out of spices and soybeans in case you’re wondering. It’s really dirty fun eating and I love it. If you need your wing fix though don’t forget to check out Smoking Goat.
Pork belly bao (£6) slow braised pork belly, shiso salad, sesame dressing, hoisin ketchup. They nailed it with this little bundle of joy – the pork belly had a the most balanced interplay of meat (mostly) and fat. You could really taste the caramelisation on the pork and come on, lets be clear hoisin and pork are the perfect marriage!
Sichuan fried chicken bao (£6) with chinese black vinegar glaze, sichuan mayo, coleslaw. It actually tasted as good as it looked, crazy good in fact. The vinegar glaze was balsamic like and the chicken with nice and moist all encased in that super crunchy exterior. Bao porn at it’s finest and finger licking good!
The damage: Expect to pay £20-£30 per head with drinks
The good: Game changing brussel sprouts, bao like you’ve never had before and chef May really translates her ideas really well into the food. Cult status well deserved here.
The bad: It’s a pop-up and it’s gone and I’m gutted I didn’t have the desert bao.