Having been delayed from its proposed spring opening by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the fourth permanent location for the group founded and operated by Erchen Chang, Shing Tat Chung, and Wai Ting Chung will be called Cafe Bao and will open this November. It’s an all-day dining operation inspired by Yōshoku cuisine, described as “a nostalgic take on Western style cooking commonly found throughout Asian cafes.” It will also take inspiration from Taiwan’s oldest, most iconic restaurant, Bolero, as well as old kissatens, tearooms and coffee shops in Japan.
As first reported by the Evening Standard, Cafe Bao will be the first of the group’s sites to open for breakfast. Dishes served until midday will include bao loaf, served as a twin with syrup and butter; baked ham hock congee pie; and bacon, egg, and cheese spring onion pancake. It’s also introducing a hamburger bao, a lobster bao, and a pudding based on the “Lonely Man” design which has become a trademark of its often-spotted tote bags.
The site will also bring to life the creations often seen across Bao’s creative social media platforms under the category of “Bao Bakery Goods”. These are set to include pork pie baozi, salted egg ‘muffin’ bao, and a Pump Street chocolate and salted caramel bao cookie, as well as something called a pizza bao. All will be available to eat in or takeaway from the “to-go” counter.
The new opening will also incorporate Rice Error, the slickly branded delivery pivot that Bao launched across its sites during lockdown.
About the new opening, founder and food art director, Erchen Chang, said: “The inspiration for Cafe Bao stemmed from Yōshoku cuisine, an interpretation of western food, seen through an Asian lens.
“This style of cooking is something that’s always resonated with us and made us feel quite nostalgic. After a recent trip to Taipei, Hong Kong and Osaka we realised we wanted to bring it to life.”
Bao, which launched as a tiny street food stall in Netil Market, Hackney in 2013, immediately achieved cult-status. There are now three permanent, full-service Bao sites in London: Lexington Street, Soho (2015); Windmill Street, Fitzrovia (2016); and Borough Market (2019), which last year won Eater London’s award for best designed restaurant. The group, which also runs Xu Teahouse in Chinatown, is backed by Gymkhana owners, JKS Restaurants.