If there were ever a restaurant with its eyes on the Insta potential of its decor, it’s this Vietnamese eatery. Set in one of the railway arches in Waterloo’s graffiti-slathered Leake St tunnel, you step in past a neon sign of Asian script. Two ten-foot-tall fake cherry blossom trees brush their plastic fronds against towering brick walls. Sheets of metal are broken up with projections of a verdant green bamboo forest. On my midweek visit, two hipster-ish pals sat tilting their beanie-clad heads upwards to gaze at shimmering pink foliage projected onto the ceiling and announced ‘This. Is. SO. Cool.’
The menu’s a mix of small bites and large dishes, which most diners were blending into a multi-course meal. The titular baos they serve are closed Cantonese style buns rather than the Taiwanese sandwich-style hirata bun beloved of Yum Bun and Bao customers. But an OG pork bun was somewhat underseasoned. A rack of pork ribs melted tenderly from the bone, but was pointlessly served with a bowl of sauce identical to the glaze – as though the chef had cooked extra and hated to see it wasted. And grilled aubergine, though punchily flavoured with red chilli, fish sauce and peanuts, was undercooked to the point of toughness in parts. A perfectly nice place to eat, but the food simply isn’t the forte. You go so you can point your phone up at the fake plastic trees and get that perfect pic for the ‘Gram.