If you’re a fan of a steamed bun breakfast, take a bao.
The people behind everyone’s favourite cult Taiwanese restaurant micro-chain have opened up Cafe Bao in King’s Cross’ Pancras Square. It neighbours the all-new Hoppers – which, at 6,000 combined square feet, is easily the largest site in either portfolio.
The other four locations have gradually increased in size, from a tiny street stall in Hackney, to a packed-out Soho sleeve, to a two-floor Fitzrovia flagship, all the way to a Borough Market venue with its own karaoke room.
This one’s described as “a nostalgic take on Western-style cooking commonly found throughout Asian cafes”, and it draws its inspiration from the iconic Bolero restaurant in Taipei city (literally the country’s oldest Western eatery), as well as from the cafes & tea-rooms of Japan and Hong Kong.
Impressively for its sleek, new-build setting, the interiors are every bit as characterful as its predecessors. The double-height windows flood light onto a warm, wood-panelled space with smoothly curving walls and a red vinyl floor. Seating is typically kitsch and retro, and there’s a constellation of paper lanterns suspended over the whole café.
On your left as you enter you’ll spot the on-site bakery, where there’s sweet cakes, sad-face buns and Pump Street Chocolate bao cookies available to take away. Choose to sit in, though, and you’ll be able to pick breakfast dishes ranging from a whole bao loaf with syrup and butter, to a baked ham hock congee pie, and a bacon, egg, and cheese spring onion pancake. And on the all-day menu, there’s luxe bao with lobster; ‘pizza bao’ stuffed with meat and cheese; and even ‘BAOfiteroles’, profiterole versions of their iconic deep fried Horlicks ice cream bao.
You know what, take two baos.
NOTE: Cafe Bao is currently open daily for takeaway, 12-5pm. They’ll be reopening for indoor dining soon, but in the meantime you can keep an eye on their website HERE.
Cafe Bao | 4 Pancras Square, N1C 4AG
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