Bao, oh bao, has London gone steam-bun mad, and quite frankly we’re all over it too! I mean, who doesn’t love a fluffy bite of goodness filled with meat, fish or veggies, slathered in Asian pickles and spices? There’s even devilish ice cream filled buns to fulfil your sweet-filled cravings! Alas, we’ve created a guide to the best go-to bao spots around the city, enjoy!
It wouldn’t be a bao guide without including the big boys – BAO. When you’ve named yourself after the food you serve, you’ve got a lot of live up to, but BAO certainly lives up to it! All of their bao is handmade with love and passion in their bakery on the first floor of their Fitz venue, using wheat flour to create a pillow-like cloud. They take inspiration from Taiwanese cooking, a cuisine which takes its own influences from Japan, China, and even Spain and the Netherlands.
Where: Various Venues Across London
If you’re looking to get a quick bao fix, head to one of On the Bab vendors for a mouthwatering Korean treat. Enjoy a selection of dishes and feast in true Korean ‘anju’ style, which is the term used for food consumed with alcohol. so any excuse to enjoy a beer, is one we wouldn’t easily miss! They also deliver so if you’re suffering from one to many last night, or you’re looking for a tasty treat to enjoy in the comfort of your own home, you’re in luck!
Where: Venues Across London
Bao, oh bao, have we found the fluffiest bao in town! Daddy Bao has certainly mastered the art of delivering mouth-watering bao each and every time. A personal favourite of ours is the traditional Mr Bao; layers of slow braised outdoor reared port, house pickles, roasted peanut and coriander. And, the herbivores among the group can enjoy too as all the vegetarian options can be made vegan, yippee!
Where: 113 Mitcham Road, Peckham, SW17 9PE
Beer and Buns was set up out of a yearning for a bar that serves up both good beer and delicious food. It’s home to the UK’s largest range of Japanese craft beer and soft, pillow-like steamed Hirata buns filled with your favourite Japanese flavours. Whether you’re after a halloumi katsu or a Japanese take on the British classic fish finger sarnie, bun style, there’s something for everyone no matter your palette.
Where: K10, 3 Appold Street, Hackney, EC2A 2AF
If you’re in the Peckham, Mr Bao is a must try for a luscious mid-week treat. You might recognise the menu because Mr Bao is actually Daddy Bao’s sibling! So if you’re a lover of quick and easy bao, this spot is the one for you. Chow down on the bao Diddley filled with 24 hour marinated chicken, fried wasabi, house kimchi and a sprinkling of coriander, delish!
Where: 293 Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4UA
Serving up the jaw-droppingly good buns every time is Yum Bun. Having started as a street food vendor back in 2010, they’ve been on one big ol’ bao adventure ever since. Nowadays they’ve got permanent residencies at Spitalfields Market, Giant Robot in Canary Wharf, and on weekends, they’re serving up from their big yellow Yum Bus.
If you’re more of a dumpling kind of guy, you’ll soon be devouring their ‘yumplings’ packed with original fillings and dressed with punchy oils and crunchy toppings. They really are, well, yum!
Where: Spitafields Market / Canary Wharf
Who knew you could get dessert baos?! I mean, just look at it – we’re salivating! Yuu Kitchen opened up back in 2016 by Australian friends, Stephen Lowe and Jon de Villa, following their numerous years travelling the world, picking up techniques and processes from all over. Having been a dream of their for years, the restaurant is inspired by the flavours of south-east Asia and the Pacific rim, including a section solely devoted to Filipino cuisine as a nod to Jon’s heritage.
Where: Various Venues Across The City
Naming themselves a Japanese Izakaya reimagined for London, Flesh and Buns certainly doesn’t fail to pack in a punch with every bite. Born out of owner Ross Shonhan’s passion for Japanese food and its contemporary culture, the restaurant offers a range of scummy Japanese dishes designed specially for sharing with friends over a drink or two. So whether you’re a bao fan, or more of a sushi kind of person, there’s a tasty treat for all.
Where: Oxford Street / Covent Garden
After making a name for themselves in Soho, Bun House opened up another joint this time filling Lisle Street with fluffy steam buns. As you might have guessed from their name, their speciality is the bun! So whether you’re after a beefy hit, chicken delight, or even a custard takeover, they’ve got you covered.
Where: 26-27 Lisle Street, Chinatown, WC2H 7BA
Located with all the glitz and glamour of the West End is Bao + Burger + Beer, selling exactly what it says in its name. They’ve combined every Londoner’s faves – the burger – with the Taiwanese bun, so if you can’t decide on one – have both! Opt for the classic roasted pork belly bun slathered in hoisin sauce, peanuts and cucumber, or for a veggie hit try the panko mushroom accompanied with herb mayo, red cabbage and sesame seeds.
Where: 66 Haymarket, St James's SW1Y 4RF
Monday is bun day! We’ve found a deal that’ll blow your Monday blues right out the window. Every Monday, from midday until close, Kurobata serves up a deal you’re bao-nd to remember. Grab yourself two bao buns and a beer for a tenner. Um, yes please!
Where: Chelsea / Marble Arch
Bringing a taste of Vietnam to the streets of London is the Banh Bao Brothers. Driven by their grandmas love of food, the co-founders have developed her secret recipes adding a twist to the familiar favourites. If you’re looking for a meaty number, dive into one of their pork or chicken bao burgers, add sweet potato fries and you’re good to go!
Where: 20 Leake Street, Lambeth, SE1 7NN
Known more widely for their dumplings, Courtesan also serves up superb bao buns. All of Courtesan’s dim sum is made in-house, with a real focus on pure, preservative and MSG-free ingredients. After you’ve consumed your bodyweight in dim sum, why not whisk yourself over to the late-night cocktail bar and watch some burlesque.
Where: 69 Atlantic Road, Brixton, SW9 8PU
Fill your boots with BunCo’s brand new menu! For the early risers, head down for their breakfast menu which plays host to all the full English treats such as egg and pancetta, egg and sausage, and if you’re feeling extra fancy, egg and smoked salmon. For the sweet-toothed fans, bag yourself a ‘buntella’ filled with lashings of nutty chocolate and fresh strawbs, mmmm.
Where: 22 Monument Street, EC3R 8AJ
Once you’ve satisfied your savoury needs, it’s definitely time to satisfy your sweet cravings! Wing Wing is like a Korean fast-food joint, serving up tonnes of fried wings but this guide is all about bao, so let yourself go bao crazy with one of their sweet offerings. Flavour highlights include; strawberry creme; salted peanut; pineapple orange; yuzu meringue; toffee creme; and banana caramel. And oh boy, do they look good!
Where: Tavistock Square / Hammersmith