Bao is now omnipresent. Having said that, its popularity doesn’t look like it will fade anytime soon. Having tried bao for the first time at my Taiwanese friend’s place and then in Bao Soho (you can read it in my blog here), I am always keen on finding more of them. The pillowy and yielding soft buns, served slightly warm and packed full of delicious fillings is always a winner for me.
Which is why one of the recent places I tried for a quick lunch stopover was Bao Bao. Part of Boxpark Croydon, this lilliputian restaurant is tucked away in one corner outside of the main food court area. However, its slightly discreet location is no dent to its popularity, judging by the queues outside. The interiors are clean and modern, with a earthy, homely feel.
From the Bao section, I tried their Beef Bao (£4.85) – slow cooked beef shin, cucumber pickle, skinned chilli sauce and coriander. The beef had a luxurious crunch on the outside and a full-flavoured, robust meat on the inside. The fresh herbs helped lighten the heaviness of the filling.
I also tried their Fried Chicken Bao (£4.75) – fried chicken, homemade kimchi, wasabi mayo, Sriracha sauce and coriander. The chicken was soft and delicately crumbed, and the combination of the wasabi and the fiery Sriracha added plenty of heat to the whole combination.
For my main, I opted for the Chef’s special Taiwanese-style spiced chicken with chilli and pepper sauce, served with boiled rice. It came with a green salad, miso soup and cold mashed potato.
Though the dish had all the right ingredients and flavours for me and everything was cooked fresh, I wasn’t particularly blown over by this dish. At the next table, the beef noodle soup definitely looked more tantalising and ideal for cold weather. I made a mental note to try that next time.
Being the only Taiwanese joint amongst the multitude of offerings in Boxpark Croydon, Bao Bao is sure to have its loyal following. I have come back from my visit feeling not disappointed but not super impressed either. Next time, I am going to order everything from the bao section (which were delicious, by the way) and give that Beef Noodle soup a try. Watch this space!
More information can be found here.
N.B. All photos used and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own. I review anonymously and pay for my meals.