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 late at weekends, you could easily work your way through both exotic lists at your leisure. Anything goes below Bun House.