What? Based on the 1960’s tea houses in Hong Kong and the open street stalls, Bun House is the work of husband and wife team Alex Peffly and Z He.
New? Yes, brand spanking new, in fact so new they are still putting the finishing touches to it – soon there’ll be a late night drinking den in the basement, the Tea Room.
Where? 23-24 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 4DZ, www.bun.house
On the Menu: Steamed buns are the order of the day, but unlike the open Taiwanese buns you’ll find at Bao, these are Cantonese style, meaning that they are closed buns with the filling inside. You’ll find a handful of savoury fillings including the classic sticky BBQ pork, lamb and fish, there are two sweet buns too including the red choc bun filled with dark chocolate, pig’s blood and chilli. Alongside it you’ll find sides including a peanut glass noodle salad and house “fries” and a series of homemade pickles.
First Impressions: Although not fully opened, it’s enviable location, on the corner of Greek Street and Old Compton Street means that they are already busy. There was a steady stream of people coming in and I can imagine that once it fully gets going, trying to grab one of the seats is going to prove tricky.
The Look: Bun House isn’t so much a restaurant as a glorified takeaway, that said it’s a very pretty takeaway. There’s a large takeaway counter topped with wooden bun boxes and big glass jars filled with pickles, other than that there is a sprinkling of tables for two and pretty mottled pale green and blue stone stools. Exposed brick work, meets green and while tiles which merges into a green and white patterned floor. Floor to ceiling windows make people watching that much easier and ferns and plants hang down from the ceiling.
What We Ate: The buns have that wonderful, fluffy texture which I imagine is the texture you’d achieve if you mixed a pillow with a cloud, but still with enough density to hold the filling. Chunks of sticky, caramelised BBQ pork had just enough the sweetness; a chicken and liver pate was rich and creamy whilst a fish bun had just enough heat from a kick of chilli. The only downside to Cantonese buns is that you can’t quite stuff them as full as the opened ones so a little more filling wouldn’t have gone amiss. With them we had “fries” we refer to them as “fries” because they aren’t fries in the typical sense, they’re fried crispy ducks’ tongues. Get over this and they’re actually delicious and utterly moreish, even if you do have a tongue bone in each mouthful. Fun fact, avians have bones in their tongues, mammals do not. Prickly cucumber salad was cucumber in a vinaigrette with plenty of coriander and we also crunched our way through some pickled shallots. We decided to stay away from the red choc bun made with blood, instead going for the custard bun filled with a salted duck egg, coconut milk and carrot juice. It was golden, dense, sweet and decadent and outshone all the other buns we had tried.
What We Drank: The full drinks list hasn’t been released yet, but when it is there’ll be craft beers such as a Cha Chan Teng, Moon Goddess Chocolate Stout and Island. If you don’t fancy alcohol there’s Vitasoy milk and Mr Brown iced coffee.
Go With: The quick service, counter style eating and the fact that it’s open until late, makes it ideal for pre or post theatre dining. It’s also open from 11am and buns are just £2.50 so if you work in the area, this is your new lunch time haunt.
Final Word: We’ll be back to try the red choc buns but if you’re only going once, you can’t afford to miss the custard buns.
Like This? Try These: Bao, Flesh & Buns, Mr Bao