Bao Fitzrovia

Restaurants, Taiwanese Fitzrovia
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(11user reviews)
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A much-anticipated follow-up to the smash hit Taiwanese street-food joint.

Kudos to Bao. It would have been so easy, given the queue-rage popularity of the original, for the owners to simply head out back, clone it, then drop it surreptitiously into place in Fitzrovia, for this, its second branch. But instead, they have given us not a remake, but a sequel.

Don’t panic. The key bits are all still here: cute crockery, a minimalist aesthetic and a menu with bao (Taiwanese steamed buns, in case you’ve just splatted down from Mars) at its heart. Many of the best-loved fillings are still available: classic pork (excellent), lamb (polarising), and my personal favourite, confit pork (those crispy onions! That hot sauce!). There’s also a good newbie, ‘cod black’, starring a fillet with a sinister-looking, ebony-hued batter (they make it with squid ink and Taiwanese beer).  

But shall I let you in on a secret? The best bits aren’t actually the bao. They’re everything but the bao. (Is that a song? It really feels like it should be). We’re talking xiao chi (‘small eats’), ‘rice bowls’ (new for this site) and sides. If you’re a meat-lover, go for the full-flavoured beef cheek nuggets and the not-small-at-all chicken chop with its spiced, deep-fried crumb coating (it also comes with a glistening whole egg yolk). But the moreish, comforting – and vegan – ‘mapo’ aubergine, served over sticky rice with a zingy salsa verde, is equally kick-ass.

For something lighter, try the raw langoustines – they’re tiny but gorgeous, shimmering in their delicate nakedness on a speckled plate, with a puddle of mellow, umami-tastic aged soy. I also loved the XO sweetcorn, a dinky pot of sweet, chargrilled kernels with just enough heat. Not every dish was perfect (the octopus was uninspiring, as were the duck hearts), but it’s not a bad innings. 

The glass-sided main room is larger and airier than Soho, and this time there’s just one counter, in the shape du jour: horseshoe. It may not have the poky charm of the original, but it’s great for people-watching. On my Monday lunchtime visit, I clocked two leading restaurant PRs (not Bao’s) and (separately) a Michelin-starred chef on his day off. There are more seats at a kitchen counter in the basement, but it’s dark down there: save ’em for dinner.

But the best thing this spin-off shares with the original? Value for money. If you pop in for a light bite and order a chicken chop, classic bao and mapo aubergine to share, it comes to £13.50. Between two. Who’s in the queue? I am. 

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Bao Fitzrovia
Contact:
Address: 31 Windmill Street
London
W1T 2JN
Transport: Tube: Goodge Street
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £65.
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To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:10
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|11
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Eloise
tastemaker

This is the type of restaurant I could happily spend hours in and, considering you can keep ordering food until you're full, this is very easily done. Surprising we didn't have to queue although I was prepared to! Sat on bar stools the atmosphere is very relaxed and it's a great people watching spot. 


The food is incredible, a real steamed bun game changer, you will seriously have a hard time finding better buns. The original Bao has to be my favourite but the pork and beef are in close succession. I highly recommend ordering a few of each and trying it all otherwise you'll feel like you're missing out. To start we also have to beef cheeks which were divine! 


Misha M.
tastemaker

I am a fan of this place! As soon as you walk in, you'll get seated at the bar type of setting. The service was fast and attentive. I like this location better than the Soho just because they have more space and no need to wait in the queue mostly. 


Let's talk about food! i absolutely love 90% of the items on the menu. We had the prawn dishes (heads came separately, must eat them), all the baos (block cod, pork and duck), fried chicken, diced up octopus, and beef with bone marrow on rice. I think the fried chicken stood out the most just because it was just so crunchy and delicious. Of course, you have to order the baos/buns. You could skip off the diced octopus and you won't even notice, that was my least fav dish I think. I love polpo aka octopus all the time, but somehow I don't think their version didn't stand out. 

Gavin K

Just as good as the Soho branch, but with even more dishes to try. The bao are great, but as before it's the small plates I would go back for. There wasn't a disappointing choice, and the drinks menu has plenty to get excited about too. I didn't even have to queue on the occasion I went!

Alexandra L
Tastemaker

There’s always an element of danger in going somewhere for the first time if it’s been incredibly popular for ages already so after finally getting to Bao last week, I can tell you with no small amount of relief that I absolutely loved it!

Recently opened in Fitzrovia, both this location and the original steamed bun mecca in Soho are infamous for queues that stretch down the street – not so bad in the hazy days of August but far less enjoyable in the toe curling chill of October so when we popped round there one evening on the off-chance that a chilly Tuesday night wouldn’t herald too much of a wait, we were happily rewarded with seats after just ten minutes. Starting life as a market stall pop-up in Netil House three years ago, I doubt even the ambitious minds behind Bao could have foreseen the adoration that would come their way over the following months.


Inside the ground floor level, a lovely wooden horseshoe bar takes pride of place with the whole place seating 47 people. It’s not big but it is most decidedly clever. All Bao’s (buns) are made in house with milk, wheatflour and a roux before being steamed into a state of absolute fluffy perfection with the sheerest of skins giving way upon biting to a soft sweet pillowy interior. Five bao options jostle for your vote – I cannot recommend the Classic enough with braised pork buried under a mountain of crushed peanut that I just want to sprinkle on everything edible going forward. It’s ridiculously tasty, so much so that we ordered, we ate and then we ordered again.


Also worthy of your time, money & stomach space are the Black Cod which delivers an umami punch and a beautifully flaky texture and the Lamb Shoulder with green sauce and soy pickled chillies. The meat or fish in all three is cooked to perfection but it’s marrying them with the silky, squishy buns that really delivers a hit of magic. 


Beef cheek & tendon nuggets are rich & meaty, bite sized morsels of a very modern take on comfort food while the fried chicken chop with cured egg yolk & hot sauce is boasts crunchy, oozy, juicy textures, sweet & spicy flavours and a profile that was made for Instagram. There’s a decent drinks list with sake and Japanese whiskey nestled alongside cocktails, wine & beer, the latter of which is served in a gorgeous ceramic cup and all the staff are bright & friendly, keeping you up to date with your wait time and upselling enthusiastically but never annoyingly. This isn’t the only spot in London with the ability to cure your steamed buns craving but I’m pretty damn certain it’s the best.


At just over £40 for 4 buns, 2 starters and 2 drinks, I fear those outside of London might balk at the bill and I can understand that because this is fast food without the fast food price tag – you’ll be in and out in an hour max – but this is also exceptional food and that is worth paying a little bit more for. If I were to take a peek into my future, I reckon I might see dozens of bao happily dotting it at lunchtimes on the run and in the evenings with friends and that, my friends, is a-ok with me.

Ellie M

Love the back cod and that you can get a seat without the massive queues of the soho branch

Shona R
Tastemaker

The food here is to die for! From their humble beginning in netil market, the guys from Bao have spread their wings to delish heights. The only down side, is not being able to book - but when food is this good, londoners queue!

gy d

with a soy cured egg yolk and pickled cabbage as a side were outstanding. Love this restaurant and how they take me on a trip to Taiwan's streets by way of London.

Sarah B
Tastemaker

My first trip to Asia at 21 years old left a large, bao-shaped hole in my life that I have been determinedly attempting to fill ever since and so the announcement of Bao's new restaurant opening in Fitzrovia (and the slew of food porn that filled my Instagram as a consequence) was a lunch waiting to happen. My friend and I treated ourselves to practically the entire menu, not withstanding the cocktails, and nothing came up short! The small plates beg to be shared and all the flavours complimented each other incredibly well. The well and truly Blackened Cod is a must, as is the XO Sweetcorn and Shortrib Rice Bowl. Instant favourite.

Clemie
Tastemaker

Yet again outstanding. I was lucky enough to turn up last night at 21.00 and find a spot - but I'm assured that as soon as the press reviews come in this place will be as rammed as little sister Bao in Soho. 

Aside from the main event of lamb, classic, and pork belly bao, the menu experiments with some new dishes. Standout for me were the cod black fish bao - delicate and lightly spiced; the fried chicken served with a confit egg yolk mixed into hot sauce; and the amazing beef shortrib and aubergine rice bowls. The cocktail menu is extended, with some really intriguing combinations, and the Mountain sake I eventually plumped for was delightful. 

Go as soon as you can, then go back. 

Dee
Tastemaker

This opening made me ecstatic since I am already a massive fan of Bao Soho. I couldn't help but visit this new location in Fitzrovia three times in the first week that they opened; not because I wanted to try everything on their new menu and was ashamed to order them all at once, but because the new addition to the Bao list: the fish bao that is called Cod Black is amazing and worth going back for. From the starters as they call xiao chi beef cheek tendon nuggets and fried chicken chop were spot on, from the chi shine rice bowls I loved the mapo aubergine with a soy cured egg yolk and pickled cabbage as a side were outstanding. Love this restaurant and how they take me on a trip to Taiwan's streets by way of London.