Tuesday 29 July 2008

Baozi Inn

On the hottest day of the year (?), we decided to visit Baozi Inn, in Chinatown. It specialises in Sichuan and Beijing streetfood, named after the Chinese word for 'bun'. As soon as I read this review, I knew I had to go.

So off we toddled, fresh from the seaside. The restaurant don't take bookings, so we took our chances on a busy Saturday night. We got a table with a 5 minute wait. The restaurant itself is pretty basic; tables and chairs are wooden and close together, all adding to the atmosphere. Staff are young Chinese folk, perfectly pleasant.

The menu was short. One page consisted of dumplings and the baozi. Dragon wontons were offered, we went for the ones in chilli oil and garlic sauce (top picture). Gorgeous; these weren't ready made, yellow skins that they used, but rather silky and light white wheat pastry.

A Three Sliver Salad, made of carrot, kelp and vermicelli noodles was addictive and moreish, tossed in sesame oil with just the right amount of crunch. They were advertised as being in chilli oil, but it wasn't prevalent and was quite refreshing.

We also ordered Fragrant Hot & Spicy Pork Noodles (or something like that...) which came with a warning glance from the waitress. "This is very spicy, is that ok?" Perhaps we were perspiring heavily, but we eagerly nodded it in. I also ordered the Chengdu Dan Dan Noodles (above left), on the back of the Time Out review. This was disappointingly small compared with the other noodles, but it worked well. The ground pork sauce was spicy and made the lips tingle pleasantly. The noodles were perfect and toothsome. I dribble a little bit thinking about it now.

I finished off with a ground pork Baozi. I felt it wrong to come here and not try it's eponymous bun. It was probably the least favourite of the meal. Although the pork was tasty, it was a touch boring. It would make for a very plausible lunch though, especially at £1.20 a pop.

The restaurant was mainly populated by young Chinese, all conversing in Mandarin, making for a great (and authentic-feeling) atmosphere. Food is very quick, like a super tasty fast food.

It was also incredibly good value - these dishes, service, two beers and an iced lemon tea came to £30. We came out having sweated a bucket - sorry, ladies glow, don't they? - but immensely satisfied. I have found my new favourite Chinatown gaff.

Baozi Inn on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Interesting food of my liking. Don’t get regional Chinese restaurant like this in my part of the country.
I was expecting you would say the baozi was the best, supposedly it should have a gelatinous filling that will melt and flow with juice once you bite into it. For the spicy Szechuan wontons or dragon’s wontons, I have not come across a rice pastry, those I know and had before were made with a plain wheat flour pastry without egg. I am thinking of making some soon. The dan dan mein looked a bit boring to me, more like English spag bog, maybe the spiciness made it taste good. I did make some dan dan mein on the blog but using thick noodles, I ran out of thin noodles.

Anonymous said...

Lovely - it's now on my list of places to try! Thanks! It's good to know of a good place in Chinatown.

Hollow Legs said...

Ah, I think you're right sunflower, perhaps it was just the pastry without the egg. I'll amend the post, thanks! I'll definitely try out your dan dan mein too.

Sunflower said...

Do you have access to UKTV food? G Rhodes in China is pretty good other than the two assistants. It’s been on since last week, the Dongpo thin sliced belly pyramid and Shanghai Xiao Lung bau will definitely make you drool. Think last week programmes are still on repeat.

Chris Pople said...

That bun looks like a weird underwater sea creature. It all sounds interesting though. I'm a big fan of Bar Shu in Soho, even if I can't taste anything but Szechuan peppers for about 3 days after each visit.

Anonymous said...

I quite liked it when I went. I loved the ginger-juice spinach, but wasn't so sure about the beef noodles I had. Would like to go back and try other things though, soon...

Elsie said...

I recently got to go to London, and we stopped in at Baozi Inn, and I loved my experience there! I got to enjoy the boiled dumplings with chilli oil and garlic sauce, as well as the pork baozi and house special one! What a special little place! Thanks for the review!