We’ll set the scene. It’s happy hour, you’re two datong negronis in, there’s an empty bamboo steamer on the table in front of you, and the song that’s popping out the speakers is almost definitely on a playlist called ‘Start Your Weekend Here’. A server just turned the lights down a little lower. You’ve realise that your two drinks are about to become many. And fuck it, why not order a second round of bao and an oreo wheelcake since you’re already having such a good time. That’s Bao and Bing.
This Taiwanese spot in Marylebone is basically the Uptown Funk of restaurants. Ten seconds in and you know you’re set for a good time, there might be some toe tapping, maybe a little posing, and, inevitably, a lot of drinking. On any given night you’ll find groups of friends camped out, swapping bao back and forth, rattling cocktail shakers at the bar, and a whole lot of couples comparing bubble tea cocktails over a selection of bao doughnuts they never planned on ordering when they first arrived. And if you’re still here come late you’ll undoubtedly see a group of Marylebone co-workers whose dinner has descended into semi-ironically ordering boozy ice lollies. They look like they’re having a great time because they are.
There’s everything from noodle dishes, to wheelcakes, to bing - a wrap style situation - available here. But as the name suggests, this place is all about bao crammed with pork belly, shiitake fritters, panko shrimp, crispy duck, and five spice beef. Read that sentence back. Not excited? Then you probably shouldn’t come here. Because really, you’re in it for these buns. And when it comes to the drinks, feel free to explore the menu. Whether you go for something full of plum wine, ginger kombucha, or one of their many mocktails you’re pretty much guaranteed something excellent.
Part of the reason that you’re bound to have a lot of fun at Bao and Bing is that it feels more like a bar than a restaurant. The lighting is low, there are red neon signs, there’s exposed brick, and one of the walls is covered in a mix of magazine covers and adverts. If it wasn’t for the order sheets on the table, you could stumble in and think you’ve found a cool cocktail bar that just happens to smell mildly of pork belly. But the food suits this, a bite of fried chicken bao here, a sip of something strong there. Head downstairs and there’s a small cocktail lounge that looks like the result of your grandma going wild with an Urban Outfitters gift card and a Pinterest board entitled ReCklEssLy BoHo. There are floral sofas, red velvet drapes on the walls, and old-school lampshades. After your fourth hsinchu old fashioned down here, you’ll either Amazon Prime a beaded curtain into your life or book the space for your birthday. And unlike most drunken decisions that definitely wouldn’t be a mistake.
This is a restaurant that’s the perfect gateway to a night out, whether you were planning one or not. You should choose who you bring accordingly. Would you mind if this person caught you blasting Call Me Maybe on a Friday night? Or messily suggesting karaoke at 9pm on a Tuesday despite the teriyaki sauce on your chin? Perfect, bring them here. Just don’t be surprised if the scene the next morning involves a hangover and Uptown Funk lodged in your psyche.
This is what you want to be eating at Bao And Bing. The char siu sauce and pork belly combination is the best of the bunch. Order this.
Is it just us, or did this bao just wink at us and say ‘hey friend, come on over’? Just us? Okay. But the fluffy bao with the crispy fried chicken is what we class as dream team potential. This should also definitely be on your table.
This guy is a little more subtle than the other bao but the crunch on the panko shrimp is a winner.
If we were pedantic people we’d say that although this is another decent bao, there isn’t much crisp in duck. We are pedantic people. The duck isn’t crispy. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t order it. Hoisin, duck, and cucumber is a classic combination for a reason.
Dry enough to make you start sadly humming that noughties Hilary Duff song about rain. Don’t act like you don’t know which one we mean. The bao bun itself is great, the shiitake mushroom fritter is great, the lack of sauce is not so great. More sauce please.
This is the bing you should get involved in. It isn’t going to blow you away, or give you goosebumps, or make you feel like angels are circling your head whispering sweet nothings to teriyaki sauce. But it’s nice enough and worth getting for the table to share.
Oreo cookies, chocolate, vanilla custard, additional chocolate. Need we say more?