If you like buns, hun then the new bao restaurant, Baby Bao, is going to be a bit of you. Originally from Brighton, it’s definitely done an address upgrade as its new home is now in Pall Mall; it needn’t be intimidated by its upmarket neighbours though as the menu is a real gem.
They Cater To Your Dietary Requirements
The seemingly vegetarian bao buns are actually vegan as are a tonne of other options on the menu like their amazing Japanese Karaage cauliflower which is fried in potato flour and served with miso mayo and lemon; granted, the mayo isn’t vegan but they’re good enough to eat on their own. I actually ended up having a completely vegan meal without even realising – except for the Gochujang Mac & Cheese which is delicious but for obvious reasons not vegan friendly.
If gluten is your Achilles heel they also serve a selection of gluten free lettuce wraps with fillings like roast cumin braised lamb shoulder and green chilli dressing, and grilled tofu, hoisin, peanuts, cucumber and scallions; the hoisin was divine at first but I struggled towards the end as it got a little sickly.
The Baos Are Massive
Some baos are petite looking with only 2 good bites to them before the fun is over, not here. As we were happily ordering half the menu, the waitress cautiously advised that we had chosen quite a lot of food, taking this as a personal challenge we stuck with our guns and awaited the banquet. To be fair to her, the baos at Baby Bun are massive, equal to burgers in size, but even that couldn’t slow down my ferocious appetite and we dutifully wolfed all of our food down in front of our aghast waitress (although I like to think she was secretly impressed). My favourite bao was probably the panko squash with pineapple, gochujang mayo, pickled daikon and coriander as I really enjoyed the sweet elements it had.
The onslaught of food, dear reader, didn’t end there either. I was feeling understandably full but then my gluttonous eyes discovered they served fried bao buns coated in sugar and with fillings like peanut butter ice-cream with jam and ground peanut, and black sesame ice-cream with coconut caramel and toasted sesame (both vegan) I was a goner.
Not Your Typical Bao Restaurant
I was instantly struck by strong New York vibes when I arrived at the narrow restaurant with its high ceilings, exposed brick walls and dangling lightbulbs; some scabby back street café in China Town this is not. I assumed it would be a lot more informal here but was pleasantly surprised by the structure and atmosphere; I mostly wanted to go because I found the menu so appealing but ended up really liking the venue as a whole – it makes for a great laid back, date night.
That being said, if bae (not bao this time) suggested a date in St James’s, it might strike fear in your wallet – unless it was their treat and then by all means, book away. The average dish on Baby Bao’s menu is just £6 so even if you go a bit nuts and a gorge yourself a la me, it’s hard to rack up too much of a devasting bill. The food is so good here though that I would happily pay more but shh don’t tell them I said that.