Little Bao is a modern Chinese diner located at the heart of the bubbly Soho area. It’s easy to recognize by the gigantic baby-shaped pink neon bulb. They offer an original take on classic comfort dishes. Chef May Chow, formerly of Bo Innovation and Yardbird, takes the traditional bun and elevates into a hip and edgy dish.
When I saw their Sweet Ending dish on Instagram I was immediately grabbed. It’s an ice cream-filled deep fried bao. With a warm recommendation from a friend and many positive reviews online, Little Bao was quickly pinned in my HK wishlist map.
Since opening in October 2013, the place has been constantly packed. It’s pretty small, with two bars. One surround the open kitchen and one facing away on the opposite wall. After waiting 10 minutes to be seated, we were lucky enough to get two great seats on the kitchen-facing bar. The entire evening people were waiting outside, which made us happy that we chose to arrive early at 19:00.
Despite the name, Bao is not the only thing served here. The menu is fairly limited but large enough to have us debate as we really wanted to try everything on it! It is divided to 3 sections. The first of which is For Sharing with dishes ranging from 78HKD ($10 / 38₪) to 148HKD ($19 / 70₪), such as Short-Rib PanFried Dumplings, Roasted Pork Cheek and Truffle Fries. The Baos section includes 5 different variations, all priced at 78HKD ($10 / 38₪) except for the Beef option which is sold for 88HKD ($11.5 / 42.5₪). And last – Sweet Ending with only one item, but seriously, who needs other diversions when that one item is ice cream filled deep fried bao.
We were serviced by Brian the Bartender, who did an outstanding job. He gave us lots of recommendations and chatted with us quite a bit. He also took the time to write down additional recommendations for us to try the following day.
Little Bao offers an interesting alcohol menu as well, showcasing beers and liquors from all around the world. Feeling adventurous I chose “Snake Master” made from snake wine – an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. Opher went for a more subtle beverage – Wednesday Pussycat White beer. It’s a somewhat fruity Japanese beer with notes of citrus.
Snake Master – Snake wine, agave, lime and dry orange peel (78HKD / $10 / 39₪)
Wednesday Pussycat White (68HKD / $9 / 34₪)
We first tried the Brussel Sprouts – Fish sauce caramel, chili, peanut, lime & fried shallots (88HKD / $11.5 / 44₪). This turned out to be an addictive snack that was uber fun to munch on. I really like that brussel sprouts are starting to make more appearance in restaurant and ditch their unappealing stigma. With a seasoning which provides such a hot kick it will make you completely rethink this veggie.
The well seasoned Lamb Tartare – Iberico lam, fermented beancurd mayo, takana tofu chips (128HKD / $16.5 / 64₪) was so good! I wish I could take a bag of these tofu chips home with me.
It was a really hard decision to pick just one bun out of the wonderful selection but eventually we chose the Szechuan Fried Chicken – Chinese black vinegar glaze, Szechuan mayo and coleslaw (78HKD / $10 / 39₪). The bun-turned-burger was soft and fluffy. It housed a nice fusion combo that was rich in flavor and had a crispy texture.
Since the ice cream bao is what essentially got us here, it was too hard for me to choose only one. I had no choice but to get both of the flavors on the menu. My personal favorite – the salt ice cream with caramel. They definitely score well with me for being just the right size and the right amount of sweetness.
Ice Cream Bao – Green tea ice cream with condensed milk (48HKD / $6 / 24₪)
Ice Cream Bao – Salt ice cream with caramel (48HKD / $6 / 24₪)
The meal added up to 597HKD ($77 / 290₪), not very cheap considering the small portions. However, we do feel like this place is worth a visit due to the high quality food, energetic vibe and exceptional service. It is a great place to try modern\fusion takes on traditional Chinese comfort food in a hip setting. Try to get in early to score seats since they are do not take reservations. Don’t be afraid to order as much food as you can; chances are you won’t be disappointed. Oh and tell Brian Tali and Opher sent you. It will probably have no effect other than making Brian happy, but that’s still a good cause.
Little bao Online: