Food review: Little Bao in Central
66 Staunton Street, Central
Tel: 2194 0202
Open: Monday-Saturday 6pm-midnight
Cuisine: Modern Asian diner
Price: about HK$290 without drinks.
Ambience: young and hip with counter-seating on backless stools, either around the open kitchen or facing a wall.
Pros: I'd avoided eating here for a long time because of the hype, but it turns out it's well-deserved - the food is vividly flavoured and delicious.
Cons: you have to eat early or late, because they don't take bookings. We arrived before they opened and still lined up. Even then, we were lucky to snag the last two seats. However, there were three of us, so one of my guests had to eat standing up.
Recommended dishes: I ate with a chef friend, who was recognised by Little Bao chef and owner, May Chow. With the two dishes she gifted us and what we ordered, we tasted almost every item on the menu.
"Mac & Cheese" (HK$108) had an Asian twist with steamed rice flour rolls instead of macaroni and mentaiko (cured fish roe) in the creamy, mild cheese sauce. Pickled mushroom salad (HK$78) had a great mix of textures, with slippery mushrooms, creamy labneh (drained yogurt) and peppery arugula. Orange chicken (HK$98) was fantastic - chunks of fried chicken with a delicious sauce that mixed salted duck egg yolks with honey and freshly grated orange zest.
We liked all four baos (HK$78 each). The chicken version, with napa cabbage coleslaw, had the odd jolt of Sichuan peppercorn in the mayonnaise, while the richness of the tender pork belly bao was tempered by the shiso and red onion.
We were won over by the "Sloppy Chan" vegetarian bao, which had soft pieces of braised shiitake tempeh and a mild crunch from pickled daikon.
Our dessert of deep-fried bao with green tea ice cream and condensed milk (HK$48) was finger-licking good.
What else? There's no service charge.