Eating Out: Little Bao Hong Kong
Little Bao HK is one of my new favourites. While still in it’s soft opening phase this week, they’ve done a brilliant job filling bellies and every seat in the house. The interiors are simple, all counter seats, one facing the kitchen where all the action takes place, the other facing the wall – pick the one facing the action of course. This little humble eatery has a tagline “Where Asian street food meets American diner”, not far off the mark and all very pleasant.
The interiors are stark except for arty renditions of old Hong Kong letterboxes, you don’t get greasy smelling hair here – assuming the ventilation is brilliant and chef May comes delivers the dishes personally at times. Service is a little over enthusiastic asking time and again minutes apart how’s the food – it’s hard to chow down and enjoy while having to keep answering with your mouth full of delicious bao and grease. This, however is of course way better than no service given their soft opening trial.
There’s only one set menu for everyone at 475HKD, no service charge, great simple easy concept and you don’t have to mull over to choose. You begin with a symphony of simple, honest dishes that appeal to most people’s palates, simple (and mostly local!) ingredients that complement each other and tossed into a wonderful mix, featuring often the rice flour buns. The dishes we loved most included a mixed mushroom salad with a yogurt dressing to bacon and clams to juicy organic grass fed beef dumplings and pork eggplant tempura. As we moved towards to the end of the meal, there was brussel sprouts and fries served with mayo, salt and pepper – simple is always best.
It is however, the type of bun ‘bao‘ that stands out there (and what we came for) given the restaurant’s eponoymous name, you’d expect those buns to be pretty damn good. They didn’t disappoint.
My mother used to make braised pork belly steam buns all the time when we were kids, we called them Kong Ba Bao in hokkien, our dialect which literally translates to fatty meat bun. The pork belly buns here are full flavoured, not too greasy set with contemporary garnish of shiso leek salad and sesame dressing.
Dessert came in the form of green tea ice cream – I hate green tea in anything but hot water, but this was delicious in their rendition of the traditional deep fried rice flour buns (mantou) served with condensed milk. Hot, and cold, soft and crispy, a great juxtaposition of texture and temperature and just the right amount of sweet as condensed milk can sometimes be overpowering. I would have loved to finish with a Vietnamese drip coffee. That would have been perfect.
While I’m not a fan of their kewpie style logo from a branding perspective, the food is the thing here.
Simple, honest, straightforward flavours with a reasonable price tag. The set menu includes dessert and a drink and I promise you’ll be stuffed by the time you’re done with your bao main dish.
Well, there’s always room for dessert.
Little Bao HK
66 Staunton Street
Central, Hong Kong
Don’t have a number for reservations, guess you can try through their Facebook page.