Little Bao pop up Review (Soho) Gone but not forgotten

The chef owner of cult restaurant Little Bao in Hong Kong May Chow showcased her signature dishes for only 1 week only 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 asked May to come over to London and collaborate with him. May boasts some serious credentials having cooked at the likes of Yard BirdTBLS as well as 3 Michelin starred Bo Innovation. (Click on the link for that review). 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 usually yeast-leavened buns that originate from Taiwan. Traditionally they come steamed in a variety of shapes or sizes with variety of fillings – the ones here are a 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:IMG_0971

The drinks are selected specifically for the food which is a quality touch.IMG_0972

The Hitachino ale (£6) was refreshing, citrusy and reminded me of the Belgian style IPA’s.IMG_0974

Brussel Sprouts (£6) with fish sauce caramel, chilli, peanut, lime and fried shallots. I tell you what this is the best brussel sprout dish I have ever eaten and if you had a sprout phobia like me stemmed from the grey mushy one’s at school that the dinner ladies used 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 a lively chilli & lime sauce that elevated all the elements. It was 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 devoured with all of the elements in one mouthful otherwise the dumplings are a bit bland. Cooked beautifully though with the super tender beef and excellent crust on the dumplings.IMG_0976

K-Wings (£7.5) with fermented beancurd and gochujang glaze. You can really taste the fermented, intense flavours from all 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 them and I relished it. If you need your wing fix though don’t forget to check out Smoking Goat.IMG_0981

Pork belly bao (£6) is slow braised pork belly, shiso salad, sesame dressing, and 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!IMG_0982

Sichuan fried chicken bao (£6) with chinese black vinegar glaze, sichuan mayo and coleslaw. It actually tasted as good as it looked, crazy good in fact. The vinegar glaze was balsamic like, sticky in all the right places and the moist chicken thigh had a crunchy armour overcoat. Bao porn at it’s finest and it was finger licking good!IMG_0983

The verdict;

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. I also made it to their Hong Kong restaurant, that review can be seen by clicking here.
The bad: It’s a pop-up and it’s gone and I’m gutted I didn’t have the desert bao.
Rating: 4/5

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