If you haven’t been to XU yet, it’s a bao time.
When I heard that the owners of Bao London were opening a Taiwanese restaurant, I didn’t doubt for one second that it was going to be amazing. Still, I had to see and try for myself.
Located on the edge of Chinatown, the vibe is distinctly more Soho. Split over two floors, prepare to be magically transported back to 1930s colonial era. The design has a distinctive train feel. Dark, wood-paneled walls, velvet emerald-green drapes, and a marble counter wraps around the central bar and my nostalgic heart. Making me wish I was born a few decades earlier, riding a smoky train to Taipei, a glass of neat whisky in my right hand.
By contrast, the menu is edgy and modern, not a single steamed bun in sight. To start, choose between Taiwanese delicacies such as beef pancakes and dumplings or big city hits like smoked eel, truffle steamed egg and Carabinero prawns. The cuttlefish and prawn toast was so good it was gone before I got the chance to take a photo. Fortunately, we learned our mistake for the rest of the incredible meal.
It tastes as good as it looks. The selection and variety are wonderful, even if the portions are a bit small. Although they do make up for it with more generous mains. While you may struggle to choose between the six mains on offer, you’ll soon know your favourite (chilli egg drop crab topped with salmon roe!!)
To drink, the choice is between miniature yet delicious cocktails, a fantastic wine list, and a selection of exotic teas, including coal baked oolong and whisky tea pairings.
Dollhouse sized cups and teapots may be typical in Taiwan but in London, you may prefer to go by the bottle. Try the Kloof Street Rouge for something special.
And always leave a little room for dessert.
XU London take bookings and are open from 12-3pm and 5-11pm Monday-Thursday and 12-11pm Friday-Saturday.