My Million Pound Menu winners Tiger Bites will celebrate by slinging oversized bao out of a metal kitchen likened to a shipping container. The ‘Asian-fusion’ street food outfit won backing from restaurant delivery platform Deliveroo’s founder, Will Shu, on the BBC TV show, and will now deliver to east London from one of the so-called ‘dark kitchens’ in Whitechapel.
Tiger Bites had previously bagged a residency at cult-followed Dalston nightlife venue Birthdays, which sadly closed to make way for yet another Brewdog ‘brewpub.’ The menu of Taiwanese gua bao, apparently inspired by a desire to serve more than the classic char siu bao made so familiar by Bao’s three restaurants — which, of course, serve much more than classic char siu bao — features some intriguing names. This includes the ‘Katsu outside, how bao dat,’ which features chicken katsu in Japanese curry sauce. There’s also ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly,’ which riffs on the classic Taiwanese topping of crushed peanuts, and then adds sweet chilli jam to fulfil the naming rights.
Deliveroo founder Will Shu, interestingly, said: “I’m really pleased to give [Tiger Bites] the space to grow their business and bring great food to more people, helping them on their journey to opening a bricks and mortar restaurant.” Given one of Deliveroo’s proposed routes to profitability is making its own food and replacing riders with robots, and that these ‘dark kitchens,’ branded as Editions, have been a key growth driver for the restaurant delivery company — despite falling foul of council regulations — it’s a bold statement.
Scott de Lima, co-founder of Tiger Bites with Lacey Miles, said: “It can be tough taking the next step in this industry, especially with the huge up-front costs of fitting and opening a restaurant, but delivery means more people can try our baos letting the food speak for itself.” Given Shu’s comments, those huge up-front costs are, it seems, in the long term plan; this dark kitchen slot is being accompanied by a residency at newly opened cafe and bar Rotate on Rivington Street, in Shoreditch.
The BBC television hit hosted by restaurant romance show First Dates’ leading man, Fred Sirieix, has proven successful for several London-based restaurants and street food stalls. Devi’s, a Silk Road-inspired supper club that works to empower women and refugees, BBQ Dreamz, a Filipino street food outfit that won a King’s Cross restaurant residency, and Ruth Hansom and Emily Lambert of the awaited restaurant Epoch all found success on the show.