Bao London for Taiwanese street food
Today I visit a restaurant named Bao in London’s Soho. Bao London serve dishes inspired by popular Taiwanese street food right here in London. I start with a visit to a neighbouring store named Said for coffee. Said, a long established Italian chocolate shop in Rome with a store in London’s Soho. Renowned for hot chocolate Said also serve coffee. After lunch at Bao London I visit the pub next door named the John Snow and take a look at its interesting history and name sake. You can check out the Youtube vlog of my trip here:
Bao London has been open for around one year at the time I visit. At the tender age of one it is still gaining in popularity. Every day there is a queue of people waiting for lunch at the Bao bus stop across the road from the restaurant. They then shut for a couple of hours after lunch service and then another queue begins to form for dinner service. Being Taiwanese fast food fortunately the line to get in moves pretty quickly. Bao’s somewhere you come for great food not somewhere to linger and chat over drinks, you can do that next door in the pub though.
Bao London is small but so are many Soho restaurants. There are almost as many staff as diners in Bao London. The staff wear white lab coats which combined with its light wooden interior and minimalist design make it look more like a health store or the Apple store than a restaurant.
The Bao London menu consists of three styles of dish. Firstly Small eats, then Bao’s signature dishes the steamed buns the restaurant’s named after and also side dishes which include deserts. Bao also has an extensive Taiwanese drinks list and they have a great tea selection.
While it’s styled on Taiwanese street food dishes, it pushes more towards restaurant dishes. But with pretty reasonable prices for London’s Soho.
The little steamed buns called bao have a cult like following right now in London. Especially the desert ones made with doughnut batter and filled with Horlicks ice cream. All of the dishes are served as they are ready as opposed to set coarse’s except for desert which is served separately if ordered.
Fluffy White Steamed Buns
The restaurant’s name derives from the fluffy white steamed buns. Which I’m having today filled with braised pork, sprinkled with peanut powder. Today I have the Classic Bao, the confit pork Bao, Guinea fowl chi shiang rice and cavolo nero. All the food was both amazing to look at and delicious. Check out my YouTube vlog for a look at the dishes and my thoughts on them.
The John Snow Pub Soho
After lunch at Bao London I head next door to the John Snow pub. The John snow pub became named after a renowned English physician dr John Snow. Soho was originally home to wealthy Londoners, however by the 1850s it had become an overcrowded slum. There was a public water pump located on the street outside where the pub is located today.
In 1854 there was an outbreak of the disease cholera in this part of London’s Soho and around 500 people died in this area in just 10 days. Also at that time medical experts believed diseases like cholera and the plague were spread by bad air. They didn’t yet understand infectious diseases, germs or bacteria, they didn’t think viruses they just thought bad air.
The John Snow Pump Soho
John snow made a map of the cholera victims which lead him to believe the pump was responsible and you could catch cholera from ingesting infected water not from inhaling it. He was right, unknown to them there was a leaking cesspit next to the pump. So people were drinking water contaminated with sewage and that was the cause of the cholera outbreak.
Once the pump shut down the cholera epidemic stopped. Although the cholera contamination had probably run its coarse already before the pump was shut. The board of health thought John snow was wrong so shortly after put the handle back on the pump and it was business as usual. But his discovery and hypothesis that water could be contaminated rather than air, and focus of infection map are considered important scientific and medical advances.
The John snow pub, originally built in the 1870’s and called the Newcastle-upon-Tyne. But on the centenary of John Snows discoveries here in 1955 they changed the pubs name to the John Snow. It’s a Samuel smiths pub. Samuel smiths is a brewery up in Yorkshire, the oldest operating brewery in Yorkshire founded in 1758. They only sell their own drinks, no other large corporations or brands beers, spirits or soft drinks. They don’t have that many pubs in London but the few that are here are incredible value for money.
visit Bao’s website : www.baolondon.com