Handy for both Soho and the West End, Baozi Inn is an authentic cheap eat in bustling Chinatown.
The decor at Baozi Inn restaurant is not remarkable, as the main draw here is the food. The venue is hung with red paper lanterns and seating is made up of uncomfortable backless stools and low wooden tables. There’s a concentration on regional street food, which is refreshing as much of Chinatown seems to cater towards the tourist market.
The restaurant is very small but if you arrive mid-afternoon you should not have a problem getting a table. At its worst, expect to wait no more than ten to fifteen minutes as the staff don’t encourage you to stay too long. The tightly packed restaurant is not about comfort, but speed and efficiency. This is a no thrills establishment after all, with a high turnover of hungry diners.
The small menu helpfully displays photos of each dish and mainly includes noodles, Baozi steamed buns and dumplings. Steamed buns with a variety of fillings (pork, egg or radish), are one of the most ubiquitous foods of northern China - the local equivalent of the British sandwich. Eat them on their own, or with a bowl of plain millet porridge and perhaps a side dish or two. The noodles come in huge, steaming bowls and are very filling.
Traditional Chengdu Dan Dan noodles are fresh, handmade and delicious, seasoned with mustard greens, sesame paste, chilli oil and topped with minced pork. The Chengdu crescent dumplings seasoned with chilli oil and garlic are equally good. A meal for two with beer, tea and service costs about £30.
Surprisingly, there's no wine on the menu, just Tsing Tao and Tiger beer for £2.50 a bottle. Chinese tea is also available.
The Last Word
Baozi Inn is a quick, cheap eat that serves authentic Chinese street food at very reasonable prices.