Fresh from the “news” that Bao are catering the next royal wedding, the pillowy juggernaut rumbles on: Istanbul operators BunCo will open in London at 22 Monument Street, as reported by Big Hospitality.
BunCo’s focus is on serving bao with “untraditional” fillings, which, according to their website, include tuna with corn and capers, veal kebab with pickled aubergine and fries, and in a victory for avid followers of street food bingo, falafel. There is also the option to choose a type of bun, varieties including spinach, red bean, and black. For less steamy options, there will be a range of salads and some similarly genre-bending sides, including nachos with parmesan, hummus, and guacamole.
Managing partner Baran Dumanoglu said: “people are bored of eating the same things, so using quality and tasty ingredients, we have revolutionised the street food culture in Istanbul, and can’t wait to share this with our new customers in London.” Whether or not Istanbul’s eaters or numerous street food vendors agree with this assessment is up for debate; what’s clear is that BunCo is tapping into a growing demand for bao and is also following in the footsteps of another Istanbul stalwart: it was announced just last week that Esra Muslu, one of the city’s pre-eminent chefs, is looking for a London site for her restaurant Zahter.
It’s worth noting that Bao, the restaurant, has succeeded by offering its namesake as a core product supported by creative, delicious dishes, rather than by subscribing to a faddish trend and bending it to fit several others — it appears, at first glance, that the function of bao in this operation is nothing more than a hot-right-now substitute for a burger bun. This import will have to work hard to win over London’s diners for more than one, eminently Instagrammable visit.