Bao Borough has mastered London's modern restaurant equation, serving up delicious and Instagrammable food within an expertly designed space.
Bao Borough has been expertly curated – from the website, to the interiors and right into the food and drink options. It’s the quintessential modern London restaurant.
They’ve got super Instagrammable dishes, quirky illustrations on the site and in the restaurants themselves and great tasting food at surprisingly reasonable prices. The Borough Market location even has its own Karaoke room for extra lols.
Inside the busy Borough spot, it feels like you’ve walked into an old-school Asian eatery. The wood panelled walls and bar, long mirror at the end of the space and small square tables with laminated menus all make for a refreshingly unpretentious vibe.
This has all be done on purpose as it isn’t actually an old restaurant. It’s like buying denim jeans with holes cut out in them. It’s designer shabby chic. And you can’t falter them on any of it – they’ve done it so damn well. And the design doesn’t distract from the almighty baos on the menu.
These fluffy steamed buns are filled with all kinds of deliciousness. We’ve been fans of the classic braised Pork with a crunchy peanut powder topping for years now – ever since they started up in Netil Market by London Fields back in 2013. But don’t stop there. The beef short rib bao is a juicy, mayo filled treat while the Prawn Shia Song bao is the new hero here. Instead of the classic round white bun, they’ve got a mini baguette shaped one that’s been fried and filled with freshly steamed prawns. Oof. This is a must-try.
Even the vegetarian curry cheese is quirky alternative. A deep-fried cheese patty comes served with curry sauce, Sichuan oil and fermented chillis – it’s nice to see them offering both classic and alternative dishes. Again, it’s very on trend.
But one of the most unassuming dishes – cold smoked aubergine panko bao – came out on top. The deconstructed bao (yes, we all love food that’s been ‘deconstructed’) has been dusted in panko crumbs and then deep fried. It’s like a fried marshmallow. Or at least what we’d imagine that tastes like. Crispy on the outside but pillowy and sweet at its core.
On the side, comes a smoked aubergine mash covered in spices and nuts. It feels more Middle Eastern than Asian. See, they’ve thrown in a little fusion – #trending. And it was executed to perfection – packed full of smoky and spicy goodness.
Even the fried tofu was a delight. Topped with Taiwanese pickles and a thick balsamic/ soy glaze. They clearly put a lot of love into the vegetarian options here. They’re far from a mere after thought.
But that’s true for everything at Bao. Nothing is done by accident – especially not the super cool cocktails.
Get around the bao-hi concoction made from whiskey and lemon or the bipp-hi with fresh watermelon juice and gin. They’ve sourced all the fruit from. Borough Market itself so you know it’s super fresh.
The Asian chandy – known as the QQ-HI – was both weird and wonderful all at the same time. Instead of topping a light lager with lemonade, they’ve swirled a thick aloe foam on top and added some grape liquor to it. It’s sweet and refreshing. It’s made for summer.
Bao Borough is on top of what makes a great modern London restaurant – unfaltering on any front.
13 Stoney Street SE1 9AD