This is my first blog post! If you haven’t read my Bio page (please do) then note this blog is purely about food, travel and life, so please be kind and enjoy!
To kick-start the blog, I’ll be talking about a new contender in the food ring! No not me.
Soho’s Bun house opened its very wide doors in March 2017 to welcome springtime air and eager consumers for the Cantonese style bao (steamed buns). Unlike its Taiwanese restaurant rival (also called Bao) with their open steamed buns, Cantonese buns are closed and Bun House’s are pretty small for £2.50! Yet despite the petty portions, it is redeemed by its whopping amounts of compact flavours fusing together like fireworks in your mouth!
I was already curious to try this place, but like destiny, I was drawn to them one summery evening by the seductive smells of fragrant seasonings and fish. The waft guided me to the front door only to be greeted by a welcoming cashier (rare). I scanned the menus when she asked what I would like, skimming over white demon beers, blue garlics and shallot babies, until at last I found what my nose longed for -the fish bun. So with haste I ordered exactly that along with the pork, lamb and red choc bun. Yes – the red choc bun, meaning dark chocolate, pigs blood and chilli in a bun – you only live once.
Along with the buns, I HAD to try the duck tongue fries which have been the recent rave here… more on that in a moment.
While waiting for my bao and fries, I sat down with my friend on the soft cushion chair that leaves you outside and inside at the same time (great for a summer day). From here I admired the décor of this 1960’s Hong Kong tea house décor.
Now let me tell you something foodventurers, going to a restaurant with a native of a cuisine really is an eye opener to the experience. I admired, he criticized, I was positive, he was negative, and it really was a ying-yang of a time. But honestly I am grateful that he was there to take the westernised rose tinted spectacles off of my eyes – here’s why. First of all the bamboo steam baskets they present the buns in, though authentic and aesthetic, are actually pretty unhygienic compared to metal because the material can absorb germs and need to be washed more thoroughly.
Then we come to the food, and I will give you the bad news before the great news, the duck tongue fries were disappointing. They simply lacked flavour. I may as well have been snacking on batter and bones – the yellowish mayo added no justice either… just extra fat. According to my yin companion, duck tongue is supposed to be served in a sauce without the batter in order to be considered traditional, that was sounding like a MUCH better alternative at the time.
Now for the great news! The buns, served within 10 minutes, truly were ‘the stuff of legend’ in the words of Kung Fu Panda’s Po. Each moreish bun was enhanced by the unique blends of flavours which seem brave when glancing at the menu, but work really well. The pork bun was sticky bbq pork belly, cured belly and yam – basically a pack of sweetened meaty yumminess. The lamb bun’s cumin, chilli and garlic really boosted the lamb’s tender flavours with sweetness, aroma and a slight kick. Then there was the fish bun… which was by far the winner for me, the smell was an indicator but the taste was a whole different level. Containing cod, prawn, chilli oil, dairy and basil – the mouth-watering blend were making savoury waves on my taste buds! Where else am I going to find a combo this great in a tiny bun??
Finally the red choc, a nice little treat to end the meal, but although the smooth dark chocolate centre worked well with the soft yet slightly bottom fried shell of bun, I was failing to understand the point of the pig’s blood and chilli as the flavour didn’t really stand out to me.
Regardless! I will definitely return here for the buns and the pleasant traditional Chinese ambience! I’m also curious to try the tea house downstairs.