Our annual Christmas gathering took us to the sweet, beautifully manicured dai pai dong vibes of Bun House, situated in the heart of Soho, London. Bun House is a relatively new Cantonese cafe right on the corner of Greek Street and Old Compton Street. Upstairs is home to the takeaway counter, its interiors paying homage to the shack-like cafes in Hong Kong but with a tiled, marble and gold-edged London twist. Downstairs is a drinking den, styled the Tea House, which we are yet to try.
Firstly, may I say I am oh so excited that hearty Cantonese food is finally a London trend? (“I’ve waited 12 years for this, in Azkaban!!”) I can’t even express how great it was to sit down and chow down on some traditional HK food and leave feeling like it was a great experience. The people running it were all yelling in Cantonese dialect so I felt fully assured before even ordering that it’d be an authentic experience.
Let’s begin with the menu: short but sweet, there are two food menus. One for small dishes and another for baos. In case you didn’t know, a bao is ‘bun’ in Chinese and here it denotes the white fluffy buns.
A little sweet on the outer layer glaze (you usually carefully tear the top layer off as chefs in dim sum restaurants pick them up directly from their steamers with their hands!) but moreish and deliciously soft when bitten into.
If you’ve been to BAO or Flesh and Buns, it’s pretty similar to the offerings available there, just not open to the side (those are Taiwanese-style baos). With Cantonese steamed baos, the filling is encased within. There is a limited selection, particularly for vegetarians but that is often the case with Cantonese home-style cooking.
Our gang sampled a little of everything. The baos are a great size, beautifully steamed with an authentic stamp on the top. I went for two of their Fish Buns, slightly spicy and filled with cod, prawns and daikon radish. Succulent with a little kick, I’d absolute recommend them!
The girls opted for a mix of the Lamb, Pig and Chicken Buns so that we’d cover all bases between us, all of which came highly recommended. The Pig Bun is one of the more popular options available at dim sum, I’d imagine the Bun House version is a souped-up Char Siu Bao!
The buns themselves are very nicely priced at £2.50 each. Two or three is enough per person, plus sides for sharing. Of course. (We didn’t order the Veg Bun, which is three-mushroom and water chestnut, FYI. Mish says no to mushrooms.)
For sides, we picked up Curried Fish Balls (my absolute favourite savoury Hong Kong street food!) which were out of this world. Although at £3.80, my heart skipped a beat because a pot will only set you back $8 at home!
We also had the Glass Noodle Salad which I suppose is a Western take on the jellyfish dish we often order at Chinese restaurants back home. Totally, totally recommend! A touch of chilli and coriander gives them a really authentic flavour, and I even remember making a mental note to bring my parents here after London’s usual Christmastime rush.
Birthday buns for my hun. Check.
Walk-in only. 24 Greek Street, London, W1D 4DZ. Tel. No.: 02080179888. firstname.lastname@example.org