About 6 years ago, a little revolution in the Chinese food scene in London began with the opening of Bar Shu, introducing a new and fiery style of Sichuan cooking in a trendy setting to conquer the stranglehold on Chinese restaurants in London previously held by Cantonese restaurants with 1980s tablecloths and 1980s service.
Baozi Inn is part of the same family of restaurants as Bar Shu (3rd one is Ba Shan) and it’s pitched as a more casual noodles spot. I treated myself to a very naughty lunch there the other day in spite of a) spicy food on a 28 deg day?!! b) I actually didn’t have time for lunch with errands and appointments packed in c) I really didn’t need more than a snack. But the temptation was too great.
Spicy beef noodles were flavourful, generous with the beef and enlivened by the generous topping of chopped coriander. Probably the best version I have had in London, though the spice rather tame compared to the many bowls I slurped down to keep warm while travelling in Tibet. (Yes, Sichuan noodles in Tibet! And trust me, they tasted much better than the local Tibetan momos)
I probably shouldn’t have…but I did order an extra side of spicy dumplings, which added an extra 2 mins of eating time to the 15 mins I didn’t have for lunch. Now these dumplings, the dumplings themselves are not spectacular, but they do come with a fragrant spicy sauce, the key ingredient of which is raw minced garlic. Oh yes, you don’t really want to be kissing anyone after having some of these dumplings.
Baozi Inn is a great little spot and it is a shame in some ways that it doesn’t have the same cult following like say a Koya, does. increasingly get a sense that these days, a restaurant’s popularity is largely driven by PR and especially Twitter chatter. Old favourites which date from the pre-Twitter world, such as Baozi Inn, lose out unfortunately. Which is a real shame, because as you can see from the picture of its interiors below, the revolution continues…
p.s. the revolution hasn’t progressed that far yet, so don’t expect mood lighting or anything more than brusque service
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Good for: Casual dinners with friends, quick lunch, spicy cravings