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Test Driving BAO Noodle Shop - the BAO team win at noodles too

roomShowcasing one of the beef noodle dishes (short rib and beef cheek). 

What can you tell us about BAO Noodle Shop?

This is the latest opening from BAO, who have this time headed to Shoreditch. However, following the template set by Cafe BAO in King's Cross before it, this sees them adding a little twist to their standard BAO restaurant. Last time it was baked goods, this time it's all about noodles (but rest assured, there are bao buns too). 

Where is it?

On Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, on the opposite corner from Brat/Smoking Goat (about a 5-minute walk from Shoreditch High Street overground). They've taken over what was Andina (who have since moved to Spitalfields) and the whole restaurant is almost unrecognisable from what was there before - with only the upstairs kitchen area in roughly the same place. 

Where's the best place to sit?

There are a few very distinct options. As you head in the door, there's a counter section at the window (which would be very good for Shoreditch people watching). We also liked the stools and counter by the new tiled bar - so they're worth a look too.

However, head deeper into the restaurant (to where the Andina private room used to be) and there's a whole second section, still well lit with a skylight. If you're in a larger group, we think this area is perfect for you. 

roomA look inside the front room - the bar is just off to the left.

And there's karaoke here too?

There is. There's a downstairs karaoke bar complete with private bar space which looks great for the parties we're now allowed to hold.

Onto the food - what's new?

A fair bit, outside of the noodles themselves. With every restaurant, BAO adds something new but with both Cafe BAO and this restaurant, there's been a real shift to making lots of new dishes specific to a restaurant. The new openings are more like a cross between BAO and their (currently still closed) Xu restaurant, which feels like a good balance. 

Here's a taste of the new menu:

roomFried Ogleshield Cheese Rolls (£5) - soy pickled green chilli with Ogleshield cheese from Neal's Yard, wrapped in spring roll pastry before frying (with pickled plum ketchup and coriander sauce dip on the side) 

roomBAO do dumplings too. These are boiled Cull Yaw Dumplings (£7.75) - hand made dumplings using the flour imported from Taiwan with Cull Yaw mince and onion filling. They're served with home-made crispy chilli oil. 

It's also worth pointing out the crispy tripe with spring onion dip - in a review for The Standard, Jimi Famurewa was raving about those

How about the noodles themselves?

Although vegan options are available (dan dan tofu and kelp soup noodle with aubergine), the two showcased noodle dishes are both beef-based, using 40-day aged beef from the great Philip Warren butchers. Here's what you can expect:

roomFirst up, the Tainan-style broth. This is rare beef rump, in a light beef soup made with 400-day-aged soy with a cured egg for noodle-dipping (£11.80)

roomThen there's the Taipei style - slow-cooked beef cheek and shortrib, in a rich beef soup spiced with beef butter (£12.50). Please ignore the poor chopstick technique...

If you're wondering just what the best form is for slurping up your noodles, there's a very handy guide on the rear of the main menu - so make sure to turn that over. That tells you exactly how to make the most of the beef, as well as reminding you to drink the broth. Apparently picking the bowl up and drinking is Tainan style, but you can just as easily apply that to the Taipei option (speaking from experience). 

And there are BAO buns too? 

It wouldn't be a BAO restaurant without them. The classic bao bun is here, as well as fried chicken and daikon. We tried the two new bao buns...

roomThe prawn croquette BAO (£6.75) with cod's roe tartare, shredded cabbage and black garlic glaze. The winner, we thought. 

roomIberico pork BAO (£7.50) - with fried Iberico pork, black garlic glaze, mayo and cabbage. We're liking the liberal use of black garlic in these. 

What about drinks? 

The cocktails are a strong part of any BAO menu - but you'd do well to check out the new BAO tea section too - the Hong Yu Almond Tea (£10) which comes with almond jelly bits was a real winner - and perfect for a hot day. There are two new cocktails, the sweet potato sour and this...

roomThe shaved ice strawberry daiquiri (£9), combining that shaved ice with strawberry, rum and sprinkled with lime. Were it not lunchtime, we could have worked through quite a few of these...

Overall thoughts

BAO seem unable to put a foot wrong at the moment. They've finally arrived in Shoreditch and while they could easily have opened a standard BAO restaurant, they've launched something new and made a proper success out ot it. The food is as good as you'd expect, the restaurant looks fantastic and those karaoke room will be put to very good use, we imagine. Another instant winner from them. 

Hot Dinners ate as guests of BAO Noodle Shop. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 

 

More about BAO Noodle Shop

Where is it? 1 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DJ

Find out moreVisit their website or follow them on Instagram @bao_london.

 

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