I’d Go Back To Hong Kong Just For Little Bao

21 May 2015

You know when you come across a restaurant on your travels, and you have such amazing experience, you’d consider moving to said destination, just to be closer, to the food?  Hong Kong’s Little Bao is that place for me.

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This hipster-burger institution turns the concept of an American diner upside down with its modern Asian cuisine approach, using many fine dining concepts for seemingly casual fast food. The staff at Little Bao make preparing burgers look like an art form, one they’ve honed and crafted and can do without haste. They also all happen to be very cool, young and hip in a ‘we only wear Comme des Garçons but we’re really down to earth’ kind of way.
 Sit at the bar & watch as the chilled-out staff artfully construct baos (Image: Luke Wheatley)

The brainchild behind the cult institution is May Chow, a young chef who developed her skills during stints at famed Hong Kong establishments Bo Innovation and Yardbird. Chow grew up spending time between Canada and Hong Kong then studied and worked in the States for several years. After deciding to become a chef and cutting her teeth in a number of top Hong Kong restaurants, May began experimenting with pop-up bao stalls before deciding to launch Little Bao.

 

#regram from @spottly! LB fries at @swapandshophk @littlesquarehk !

A photo posted by Littlebaohk (@littlebaohk) on

Chow crafts her menu around local ingredients, using Chinese pickled mustard greens instead of cornichons and Chinese black vinegar rather than balsamic to make her own ‘balsamic glaze’. As for the baos: choose from grass-fed organic beef with tomato jam, roasted onion sesame mayo and cheddar cheese; slow-braised pork belly with leek and shiso red onion salsa, sesame dressing and hoisin ketchup; Szechuan fried chicken with Chinese black vinegar glaze, Szechuan mayo and coleslaw. There’s also an epic fish tempura bao with tamarind palm sugar glaze and the ‘Sloppy Chan’ vegetarian option is all about the Taiwanese braised shiitake tempeh.

 Yellowtail crudo with preserved black bean vinaigrette and okra (Image: Luke Wheatley)
 Short-Rib Panfried dumpling with celeriac coleslaw (Image: Luke Wheatley)

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 Szechuan fried chicken bao (Image: Luke Wheatley)

While the baos are the restaurant’s name sake, there’s more to the menu you need to try. The Truffle Fries with truffle mayo and pickled daikon are next level TDI (To Die For). The ingenious Mac & Cheese is made from steamed rice rolls instead of pasta with mentaiko (marinated cod roe commonly used in Japanese cuisine) cheese sauce, and don’t get me started on the Short-Rib Panfried Dumpling with slow-braised organic beef.

 "Mac & Cheese" with steamed rice rolls and mentaiko cheese sauce (Image: Luke Wheatley)
 Green Tea ice cream bao with condensed milk (Image: Rachel Surgeoner)

After tasting just about each and every one of the share plates (including a special Yellowtail crudo that has now official made me a sashimi convert), and devouring a bao all to myself, dessert was a struggle, nonetheless a must. Thankfully, the green tea ice cream sandwich with condensed milk was worth every bite.


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Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.