One of London’s sleekest, cult-followed restaurant brands will bring Taiwanese beef noodle soup in a stylised guise to its newest location in the trendy East End Shoreditch neighbourhood. Bao — the Taiwanese mini-chain owned by Erchen Chang and her husband, Shing Tat Chung, and his sister, Wai Ting Chung — is poised to open its sixth restaurant on the former site of Andina at 65 – 66 Shoreditch High Street on 23 June, bringing Bao Noodle Shop to the corner of the hyper-trendy Redchurch Street.
It will centre around niu rou mian, using noodles made at the restaurant and continuing the group’s import of a short, highly specialised roster of Taiwanese products by bringing over flour from the country. A Taipei-style broth will buoy short rib and beef cheek, while a more delicate soup from the southwest of the island will revolve around the tenets of a key Bao dish: rump cap with aged white soy sauce. New baos are coming, as might be expected, featuring an Iberico pork number with garlic mayonnaise and another based around sweetcorn congee. It will also serve bao bing, a towering dessert of shaved ice and fruit which finds its different guises and names across myriad countries.
Bao number six will be in esteemed company: next-door to bacon naan and chai queue-magnet Dishoom, it will live across the road from seafood grill Brat and British-Thai restaurant Smoking Goat, a stone’s throw from Michelin-starred Lyle’s, and down the road from a collection of east London’s hippest and most fashionable clothing, cosmetics, and homeware stores.
The group is known for its specific tailoring of each site to a particular source of inspiration — evidenced, most recently, by the newest restaurant drawing on the “western style cafes in Asia. The Boleros of Taiwan to the Kissatens of Japan,” according to its website. Everything the trio does is precise, deliberate, cool and their arrival in Shoreditch, having already put footholds in Hackney, Soho, Fitzrovia, Chinatown, Borough, and King’s Cross, feels inevitable and fitting.
A licensing application with Hackney council states that Bao wishes to vary the existing premises licence to authorise films, live and recorded music, and takeaway sales of alcohol during existing hours. The application suggests that the Shoreditch site could offer some of the same extracurricular activities as seen at the Borough Market restaurant, where there’s a cinema room in partnership with streaming platform Mubi, and a karaoke room for hire.
Bao’s Soho restaurant — its first bricks-and-mortar site — opened in April 2015, having amassed an ever-growing cult following at Netil Market in Hackney, out of which the group has been offering its new takeaway rice box brand Rice Error since last summer.
Its other restaurants include the development kitchen at Bao Fitzrovia, which opened in July 2016; the most recent site, which opened in King’s Cross at the end of last year; and the brand-adjacent flagship Taiwanese restaurant and teahouse Xu, which came to Wardour Street in May 2017. The group is backed by JKS Restaurants, which counts 17 individual restaurants in a portfolio that includes a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Gymkhana and Trishna, Lyle’s, Sabor, and Kitchen Table, as well as grill and sports bar Brigadiers, and Berenjak, the Iranian kebab restaurant in Soho.