Glam but chill Taiwanese by the peeps behind Bao
Taiwanese | RR | £££
Xu like bao is legit, it’s got style AND substance. A sophisticated space with no trace of snootiness; it’s bringing old school glamour into a cool modern context. Spinning out banging plates like the chicken wing with sanpei sauce and caviar and the ‘drop egg crab’, all delivered with happy vibes. In sum, the food is on point, the space is on point and the service is on point. Would I go back? Without a damn question.
BASIC OR BOUGIE? Ba-Bou
SERVICE IS Sleek, Casual, V. Friendly
TRY The Chilli Egg Drop Crab
GOOD FOR Spesh Times, Dates
GROUPS Up to 8 ppl
THE FULL SHEBANG
Xu is on Rupert Street, right next door to the Palomar, where we had dessert after (not brilliant FYI but such a fun vibe – keen to try the savoury stuff which people rave about).
They describe the space as a ‘cinematic interpretation of 1930’s Taipei – I’ve never been (lol) so can’t verify that – what I do know as that it looks sleek AF. It’s wonderfully glamorous but in a down to earth, very accessible way.
Image Credit: Wallpaper
Greens, blush pink and dark wood permeate the space imbuing it with a luxe feel but then little details like the illustrations on the menu and on prints on the walls upstairs bring a relaxed, fun and charming edge. It’s a two level space with the tea bar downstairs and the cocktail bar upstairs. My favourite detail is probably the one man dining table upstairs because controversially I quite like dining by myself (at lunchtime).
FOOD & SERVICE
Bao is one of the most hyped restaurants in London, so it’s little surprise that when they announced they were opening up a new restaurant with a chic 1930s style Taiwanese tea house aesthetic that people got excited, myself included. Xu did not disappoint both on the aesthetic and food front.
We kicked things off with a cocktail to limber us up; most are tea infused. I opted for the Bei Gang (kombu rum, manzanila, honey, Lime and wheat grass) which was similar to a daiquiri and was absolutely superb
We ordered a few snacks to start with. First up was the Cuttlefish Toast, a take on the sesame prawn toast which came with whipped cod roe (kinda like taramasalata) – a nice enough dish but not wow.
I wouldn’t rush to order it again whereas I would the Chicken Wing…
this was smothered with sanbei glaze and they lobbed on a little dollop of caviar for lolz which my friend, I can report, was tres banging.
This was followed swiftly by the Beef Shortrib that came served in bone marrow with pickles, spring onion and potato crumb + a few pancakes – in my crude description, it’s duck and pancakes but with beef instead. I still had a bit of sanbei glaze left, so used this as my hoisin sauce and added a bit of chilli sauce elevating this dish from perfectly decent to ‘a please sir, can I have some more’ dish.
Then we had the Truffled Steamed Egg which came with spring peas – the truffle ain’t a shy guy and in this case was very much in your face. The texture was very wobbly which I wasn’t crazy about, so I threw some rice in to tame it down a bit and basically made a truffle egg rice dish for myself.
Last dish we had was the Chilli Egg Drop (white & browncvrab meat with salmon roe, egg drop sauce, red chilli, fermented shrimp & garlic) with some white rice and seasonal greens. Yasssssss hunnnaay is all I got to say about dat. I left feeling stuffed even though we hadn’t eaten a vast amount (that was probs down to the rice thinking about it) and well taken care of.
The service was excellent, the perfect blend of professional yet fun and friendly – we had mad bantz with our waiter, who incidentally was throwing some yoruba and igbo words my way as he has Nigeria mates (we are everywhere, haha!) and is precisely why I love London – a glorious hub of diverse people. The last time I had such fun with the front of house was at Spring in Paris.
We ordered x3 small plates and x1 main (crab dish) and a cocktail each and the bill came to £41 which for London in such a good looking space is very well priced. I’d say if you want to feel unrestrained, trying out a couple of dishes to share + some booze, look to drop about 40 quid.
There are a few seats downstairs but if you really want to feel in the thick of things, grab a seat upstairs especially at dinner time; if you’re on a hot date, a seat at the cocktail bar in particular would be awesome, it’s just sooooo pretty. In terms of people, it was a mixed bag – as with most spots in Central London, you’re always gonna get a melting pot of people which I for one think is a good thing – it can at times feel nauseating when you go to a place that’s just full of super trendy people. The guys that look after you are a big part of the ambience – super charming and friendly and just make you feel uber relaxed and happy that you’re dining there.
THE TAKE OUT
Xu like bao is legit, it’s got style AND substance. A sophisticated space with no trace of snootiness; it’s bringing old school glamour into a cool modern context. It’s spinning out banging plates like the chicken wing with sanpei sauce and caviar and the ‘drop egg crab’, all delivered with happy vibes. In sum, the food is on point, the space is on point and the service is on point. Would I go back? Without a damn question.