Bao, oh bao, has London gone steam-bun mad, and quite frankly we’re all over it too. Who doesn’t love a fluffy bite of goodness filled with meat, fish or veggies, slathered in Asian pickles and spices?
And the versatility of the humble bun doesn’t stop there. London’s restaurant scene is bursting with devilishly good ice cream filled options and fusion cuisine options too. Here’s where to go…
If you’re looking to get a quick bao fix, head to one of On the Bab’s 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. Boasting four venues across the city, it’s the place to go for a real bao filled feast.
We found the fluffiest bao in town with these guys.
Daddy Bao has certainly mastered the art of delivering mouth-watering bao each and every time and a personal favourite of ours is the traditional Mr Bao; layers of slow braised outdoor reared port, house pickles, roasted peanut and coriander.
It’s worth noting that any herbivores among the group can enjoy them too as all the vegetarian options can be made vegan.
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, and BAO certainly does.
All of their bao buns are 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.
If you’re in Peckham, Mr Bao is a must-try for a tasty mid-week treat.
You might recognise the menu because Mr Bao is actually Daddy Bao’s sister restaurant, serving up the similar quick and easy bao dishes.
Chow down on the Bao Diddley, filled with 24-hour marinated chicken, fried wasabi, house kimchi and a sprinkling of coriander. Delish.
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 bao adventure ever since. Today they have permanent residencies all over the capital including the Seven Dials street food market.
If you’re more of a dumpling fan, you’ll love their ‘yumplings’ packed with original fillings and dressed with punchy oils and crunchy toppings.
Who knew you could get dessert baos?
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 theirs 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.
Flesh & Buns is a Japanese Izakaya with a difference. Their Berners Street restaurant focuses on Nikkei cuisine which brings Japanese tradition and cooking techniques together with Peruvian ingredients. What you get is fun, flavour packed dishes just waiting to be Instagrammed. Oh, and the best Pisco sours in town.
After making a name for themselves in Soho, Bun House opened up another joint, this time filling Lisle Street with fluffy steamed 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.
The bao is great at Marble Arch’s Kurobata but really we’d quite happily order the entire menu.
Start off with some traditional maki rolls and robata grilled meats, followed by their signature tuna sashimi pizza before tucking into sticky BBQ pork belly buns and decadent wagyu sliders.
Bringing a taste of Vietnam to the streets of London is the Banh Bao Brothers.
Driven by their grandma’s 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.
Fill your boots with BunCo’s brand new menu which takes a global approach to the humble bun, taking inspiration from everywhere from Taiwan to Turkey.
If you’re an early riser, order the breakfast menu which plays host to all the full English treats such as egg and pancetta, egg and sausage, or the extra fancy egg and smoked salmon.
For the sweet-toothed fans, bag yourself a ‘buntella’ filled with lashings of nutty chocolate and fresh strawbs.