A hip combo of Taiwanese street food restaurant and cocktail bar, Bao & Bing – from the former CEO of dim sum chain Ping Pong – serves those fluffy little bao buns you’ve all heard of and plenty of other dishes you probably haven’t. The look mixes exposed bricks with antique furniture, while satirical cartoons hang alongside old Vogue Taiwan covers on the wall. Downstairs feels more like the backstreets of Taipei, with neon signs and a louche teahouse-style room for private hire.
Kick off with bao. The five-spiced beef version was a little heavy on the mayo, but the panko shrimp bao had a satisfying crunch between fluffy white buns. As for the ‘bing’ in the name, dan bing is a kind of Taiwanese breakfast burrito, with crunchy cabbage and spring onions wrapped in a pancake. Vegan and veggie options are limited, but the spicy barbecue corn was a highlight. Desserts were creative and fun. Turns out peanuts, coriander and vanilla ice cream really do go together, as demonstrated by the popiah pancake roll. Get the 12-layered pineapple bing cake if you’ve got hungry friends, or an on-trend wheelcake. It looks like a big English muffin, has a texture between a waffle and a thick pancake, and oozes custardy filling. Mixed drinks are another draw. Purists may be alarmed by Yakult cocktails, but the probiotic drink is incredibly popular in Taiwan and it was delicious muddled together with a shot of potent Korean soju.
There’s even a playfulness to paying. Pick a lucky number and, if your choice rolls out of the bingo machine, you get your meal gratis. Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?