Tea Room at Bun House

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars Soho
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
1/6
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6/6

Hong Kong-style speakeasy below Soho’s Bun House.

Bun House: a whole lotta fun with its steamy takeaway counter, informal layout and Cantonese decor on a buzzy corner where Old Compton Street meets Greek Street. But there’s even more fun hidden below ground at the Chinese joint’s speakeasy-bar-meets-tea-room. It’s lit by the glow of Cantonese lettering in green neon, which bounces off luxurious red drapes, creating a room as saturated in colour as a Nicolas Winding Refn film (although the owner is said to have been more inspired by Wong Kar-wai’s ‘In The Mood for Love’).

In among gorgeous design, there’s a lot of novelty in a trip to the Tea Room. The menu is printed on a newspaper and a jukebox loaded with vintage vinyl sourced from Taipei, Singapore and Hong Kong warbles out ’60s tunes, although a bold sign warns punters to look but not touch.

Authenticity is in your glass as well as on the airwaves, with drinks featuring Chinese spirits and flavours. There’s a whole list of imported baijiu, China’s national drink sometimes referred to as ‘Chinese vodka’. If you’re not up for a one-way journey on the vodtrain, ease yourself in with a Mango & Chilli cocktail, which features baijiu in the background of a bold fruitiness and heat that builds and tingles. It’s also the base spirit in the Peanut & Goji, a syrupy-sweet short drink served over a large rock of ice and good enough to treat as a dessert. Both were served with playful, almost-garish garnishes.

Bar snacks were just as good to look at, with the likes of pork-neck skewers and garlic chicken wings playing second fiddle to the excellent lacy dumplings, five pan-fried gyoza with a crispy lattice web joining them all up.

Of course there’s a list of Chinese tea blends, too. And with the Tea Room open until 3am at weekends, you could easily work your way through both exotic lists at your leisure. Anything goes below Bun House.

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Tea Room at Bun House says
We speak Chinese. We serve Chinese. Drink fast or eat slow. Hong Kong Beer, China-only cocktails, Salted Lime Soda! Imported drinks, imported music, Westerners welcome!

A throwback to 1960's Hong Kong tea rooms serving up gourmet Cantonese forgotten favourites, no steamed food! Famous clay pot rice with fat pork, velvet, underground, coal grill barbecue, original jukebox with original hits, new spirits and old liquor, rattan and leather, house brewed rice wine! All day every day, come soon!
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By: Laura Richards

Posted:

Venue name: Tea Room at Bun House
Contact:
Address: 23 Greek St
London
W1D 4DZ
Transport: Tube: Leicester Sq/Tottenham Court Rd
Do you own this business?
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|6
2 people listening

For those not likely to read the review in its totality – I’ll save you some time by just saying I strongly recommend against visiting this restaurant. Conflicting information leading to an unwarranted charge and ultimately a condescending and dismissive reply from management completely undermined our experience of the food.

We booked a table in the Tea Room (downstairs) for a Thursday lunchtime, with a reasonably large party. Upon arrival at the restaurant, the downstairs section was empty save several members of restaurant staff eating their own lunch. While we had no issue with this at all, we felt the more informal upstairs section would be more comfortable and suited to the mood of the group. We let the front-of-house staff know that we had arrived for our reservation, and explained the situation. We also asked at this time whether, since we were still planning to eat at the restaurant, it could be confirmed we would not be charged the £60 deposit required for our original reservation. It was verbally confirmed that this charge would not be levied.

During our meal upstairs it was confirmed by a second member of staff that, having spoken to the restaurant manager, this deposit charge would not be made. Later in the meal we were told actually, in the time that had elapsed since our original reservation, the deposit had been charged for not showing up. This was despite (a) actually physically being there to be told this and (b) the multiple confirmations it would not be levied. We were told we could contact the manager by phone – and upon doing so they flatly refused to refund the deposit charge and were entirely dismissive of the situation.

Echoing another reviewer on this site the experience was entirely shaped by miscommunication around charges, rather than of the restaurant itself. In future we will not be returning to the restaurant, and strongly recommend against others visiting too. 


The guys running this place don't seem to have any kind of idea what good customer service means. Or customer service of any kind really. Upon arrival, the place was deserted apart from three surly members of the kitchen staff all eating their own food at separate tables. No welcome to speak of. 

Not being a very welcome environment we decided to go upstairs to eat (in the same building) instead  and were told by two members of staff that we could use the £60 deposit we'd paid upstairs. A group of us all spent our money upstairs and left having been given the managers phone number to insure the deposit would be returned having just eaten with them.

Instead the manager laughed on the phone and told us the deposit isn’t refundable. Bad experience, unclear communication, and unhelpful service.

tastemaker

The Tea Room here offers a separate menu of small and large plates, you won’t be able to order buns downstairs. I’ve eaten upstairs so you can see my review here; but for downstairs, I’ll be back to try their wider menu. The cocktails, however, are very interesting. There are so many wonderful and nostalgic flavours in Chinese food and herbal ingredients and I was really impressed by the ambitious cocktail menu. You’ve got things from bitter melon, winter melon and haw; which I’m sure that many people just haven’t seen before. My friend's Peanut and Goji cocktail was nicely presented and quite smokey and boozy, but there’s a sweetness to it that the goji brings. My Jasmine and Salted Lime was fragrant, sweet and moreish with the saltiness; though I felt it could have had a bit more of a kick. Although Bun House is more famous for their upstairs, the vibe downstairs is dark, sensual, is 1960s film noir - much like director Wong Kar-Wai’s film, In The Mood For Love starring Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. I’m definitely keen to be back to try the duck tongue fries, coal grilled skewers and this deliciously sounding Oolong smoked quail for sure - definitely keeps it interesting for date night.

Tip: you can’t order the buns to eat downstairs (besides the red chocolate sweet bun), but there is plenty of seating downstairs including lounges which you can sink into. 

Good For: something different, intimate drinks, casual dinner, cheap and cheerful, date night
tastemaker

I popped in last weekend to try the new brunch menu and it was just as good as I was expecting it to be. This is a super funky Hong Kong style tea room with strong speakeasy vibes, glowing neons and luxurious red drapes. Very glam! You use a tick list to choose your dishes and can immerse yourself in moody jazz and blues music whilst sipping on a cocktail or two. Whilst the menu looks quite meat heavy, they are more than willing to vegetarian-ise the dishes so I went for the cumin potato hash with a fried egg on top. It was unreal. The flavours and textures were just incredible. Would be good if they offered a few more veggie options but overall, I was super impressed. I'll definitely be coming here again!

Tastemaker

I definitely like the japanese speak easy style to this place. I went here about ten a'clock on a thursday evening on a hot night and I really enjoyed sitting on a small table on wardour st,noshing steamed buns and drinking beer. It rounded off my evening really nicely. It also was really reasonably priced at under a fiver a bun. Simple menu of buns,sides,booze. Yet there are some adventurous flavours in these buns...I admit not my tastes but if you like pigs blood & dark chocolate,they have a bun for that! We had the mushroom bun,which was great. Lamb and Pork,which were good too. I had the glass noodle salad,which was a bit slimey! I didn't finish it. But my beer was good,buns was nice and it was like £8 a head. The setting was great,I have to say. It's a nice experience,not many places like it. And if you are feeling brave,have the duck tongues! 

tastemaker

With so much buzz generated around Bun House, I thought it would be a good idea to also test out their Tea Room downstairs. It's essentially an underground bar with a pretty extensive and unique list of cocktails and more delicious food! While the upstairs restaurant serves up a range of steamed buns and sides, the bar downstairs has desserts and more main dishes. 


I came for drinks after dinner last weekend so ended up just ordering cocktails and some dessert. There aren't many options for dessert, but they're all pretty authentic and traditional. I went for the Pineapple Bun, which is one of my favourite types of Chinese sweet breads to get at the Chinese bakery in Chinatown. It was a lot smaller in size than what you would normally get at the bakery, served warm and with a slab of butter in between. I liked that it was cut in half already, so it made splitting it between two easy. I also liked that it was served warm, which made it taste really fresh - the sugar crust on top was crunchy while the inside bread was soft and fluffy! 


We also ordered the Sticky Milk Doughnut. I actually preferred this to the Pineapple Bun because it was something I'd never tried before. One serving came with two small fried doughnuts filled with warm and creamy milk. Again, I like that this dessert was served warm, although maybe slightly too hot! The milk filling was sweet and creamy, which balanced well against the soft and fluffy fried bun. It was perfectly sized as well, seeing how sweet the milk filling is, it was nice that it was kept petite. 


For my drink, I had the Century Pear & Maple. I really enjoyed this because it wasn't too sweet even though there were notes of maple syrup and pear, and because it included a type of alcohol with a really smokey aftertaste. It's quite strange having this sensation while drinking a cocktail but it was a delight!


The service was great, our waiter was very attentive and friendly. He explained how to drink the cocktails as well as the best way to eat the desserts we ordered. He was great at coming back to fill our glasses of water throughout our night and with our payments at the end. The atmosphere of the bar is great too! It's quite spacious for an underground bar in the heart of Soho and the decor is kept traditional, which really adds to the ambiance. The music playing was also traditional and kept at a good level - I didn't have to shout to speak to my friend and it was easy to have a proper conversation while enjoying our drinks and food!