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Bao Marylebone

  • Restaurants
  • Marylebone
  • price 2 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Since it flung open the doors of its first restaurant in 2015, Bao has become a lowkey London institution. After almost a decade of fluffy buns and basement karaoke, the notoriously tasty Taiwanese mini chain is on its way to being as synonymous with eating out in the capital as St John, The Savoy Grill and a hasty but hallowed Pret baguette scoffed while striding through Soho Square to the pub on a sunny summer’s evening. 

Not ones to sit on their soft, pillowy laurels, Bao Marylebone is the team’s latest outpost following branches in Shoreditch, Borough, King’s Cross and the original Lexington Street digs. It follows the same successful pattern as the others; there’s the utilitarian but gorgeous wood-panelled dining room, the DIY pencil checkbox menu that will never not be entertaining – who are we to deny such a gracious offering of autonomy over our own order? – and, naturally, fast and reasonably priced food. 

Its seductive powers remain equal to, if not more powerful than, a Cool Hand Luke-era Paul Newman hand-delivering you an extremely dirty Martini.

It’s the first all-day-ish branch of Bao (doors here open at midday and unlike the other branches don’t shut for a couple of hours R&R after lunch service), and we swing by on a weekday afternoon, among solo diners taking a late lunch and a couple of intensely nattering 20-something pals. At Bao Marylebone, the focus is on dumplings – each Bao has its own unique flavour, like Shoreditch’s noodle focus – but on our visit, it was the new selection of cold dishes (and the bao, of course) that really impressed.

We begin with a jammy and caramelly, soy-boiled egg, in a sweet thick sauce that’s also pudding-worthy (and possibly the best thing you can get for £3 at any central London’s restaurant) while a smacked chilli cucumber salad was as fresh as it was bracing – this is no beginners chilli oil, but the real, spicy deal. A bowl of ox tongue salad was surprisingly refreshing, which isn’t something often said about the large wet muscle of a 40-stone mammal, but there we have it. Taiwanese fried chicken was possibly more batter than chicken, but the classic braised pork bao has still got it; a wedge of chocolatey, gooey meat dusted with a blanket of toothsome peanut powder. Its seductive powers remain equal to, if not more powerful than, a Cool Hand Luke-era Paul Newman hand-delivering you an extremely dirty Martini.

In comparison, the dumplings lacked a little punch. Pan fried beef guo tie benefited from their crispy casings, but boiled prawn dumplings in egg drop soup didn’t really taste of anything much at all. Stick to the cold classics though – and those beautiful, heavenly bao – and you can’t possibly fail.  

The vibe Bao’s Taiwanese mini-chain branches out to Marylebone, with an all-day dining spot for hungry Oxford Street shoppers.

The food Bao Marylebone specialises in dumplings, but we suggest going hard on their namesake bao and funky little ox tongue salad.

The drink Sour plum tea with orange and liquorice and peanut milk make for great booze alternatives, while those on the sauce can have a Umeshu Negroni.  

Time Out tip Stock up on those fudgey, insanely addictive soy braised eggs.

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper


56 James St
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