What's the draw?
BAO started out as a food stall in a carpark in East London; now it's got four hugely successful restaurants (including BAO Borough) – and you'll still have to queue at the pint-sized Soho original, that's how popular the hand-crafted buns are. The latest addition to the family is BAO Noodle Shop in Shoreditch, and yep, you guessed it, it serves noodles rather than bao (although you can still get your chops around the buns, so you won't miss out). This time, the founders have looked to Taiwanese noodle joints for inspiration, broadening our understanding of the Asian island's national cuisine. The menu follows the usual BAO format: a paper menu where you tick off what you want to order, from soups to dumplings to buns to cocktails.
What to drink?
To booze or not to booze, that is the question, but whatever you go for here, you'll get something totally delicious and with a strong Taiwanese influence. Shaved ice cocktails, cold-brew teas and beers nod to Taipei, while a sour made with gin, chestnut and sweet potato was tangy and sweet and used the spud in a way that's rarely seen in London. Rich in flavour and mouthfeel, it's just one of the interesting serves on the menu – the milk tea old fashioned also caught our attention.
What to eat?
Every dish gets the classic stylish BAO spin, so it's hard to go wrong. The starters were especially moreish morsels: crispy tripe with spring onion dip was a favourite, perfectly seasoned with a refreshing dip, and boiled cull yaw dumplings, which, according to our waitress, are just like her grandmother makes – probably one of the biggest compliments around. It's worth noting that the meat (including the yaw, which is ewe that's too old to breed), comes from super-sustainable and ethical butcher Phillip Warren. The bao were predictably delicious, with two new variations you'll only be able to eat in this site: prawn croquette, and iberico pork. And as for the noodle soup, we had the signature Tainen-style broth noodles made from Taiwanese flour, and slices of rare beef that poaches in the broth while you eat it. While we'd have preferred less fat on the beef, the flavours and freshness more than made up for it.
From £11.80 for a bowl of noodles. 1 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ; baolondon.com