So what should we know about Cafe Bao?
As the name suggests, it's part of the Bao London family. This is their take on the popular Western-style cafes you'll find in Taiwan and Japan. As co-founder Erchen Chang explains best it's inspired by "Yōshoku cuisine, an interpretation of western food, seen through an Asian lens." So it's part bakery, cafe and restaurant.
Where is it exactly?
You'll find it on St Pancras Square, in between King's Cross and St Pancras stations, so it really couldn't be more connected or easier to get to. Although it's in a modern building, they've added a sort of Mad Men-style panelling which makes it look very distinctive - and there's a beautiful upstairs dining room/workshop space with glass walls overlooking the cafe.
Where's good to meet friends for a drink first?
There are plenty of options, including the two nearest - Notes and the big Drake & Morgan, as well as the bar at Hoppers next door and we always like Parcel Yard in King's Cross itself. But, you might want to save yourselves - because the drinks list here, the cocktails in particular, are worth trying. Think 1970s with a Bao Twist.
Presumably, they also do teas and coffees?
The bubble tea menu here sounds amazing - you'll be hard-pressed to choose between drinks like their Mocha Bubble, an iced mocha served with brown sugar tapioca pearls and a purple taro foam. Or what about a Salted Custard Bubble made with custard milk, salted custard foam and nutmeg?
What's on the menu?
While there is a bao section as per usual, the menu here gives greater space to a range of interesting small and larger sharing dishes. There's also a baked goods and desserts section either to end your meal with or pop in for a coffee and a cake.
Here's an idea of what's on offer:
What's the menu like for vegetarians and vegans?
There's one veggie bao - the daikon - and a smattering of veggie and fully plant-based snacks and dishes. One fully vegan dish is on the sides section - but everyone should be ordering it.
Room for dessert?
If you hit the menu as hard as we did, potentially not. That said you'll want to ensure you have at least some of these.
What about drinks?
There's a very small wine list (one white, red and fizz) along with sake made especially in collaboration with the Konishi Shuzo Brewery. Other options include their own beer and a tight list of whisky.
Summing it up:
If there's one complaint to be made about this BAO - it's nigh on impossible to decide what to order. Every single dish reads like a belter - and tastes even better. If you can, it would benefit frequent short visits to work your way through the menu, just to make sure you don't miss anything out. Beside us a chap was sitting with a glass of whisky and a small selection of the baos and small plates - he looked like he was on to a winner.
More about Cafe Bao
Where is it? 4 Pancras Square, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AG
How to book? Book online
Hot Dinners dined as guests of Cafe Bao. Prices correct at time of publication.
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