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 for myself.
Located on the edge of Chinatown, the vibe is distinctly more Soho. Split over two floors, prepare to feel magically transported back to 1930s colonial Taipei. The design looks like you’re in an old luxury train. Dark, wood-paneled walls, velvet emerald-green drapes, and a marble counter that wraps around the central bar.
By contrast, the menu is edgy and modern. 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.
Everything tasted as good as it looks, even if the portions are a bit small. Don’t worry, as they make up for it with more generous sized mains. The star dish on the menu is without a doubt the chilli egg drop crab topped with salmon roe. I know I will be back time and time again just for this dish.
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.