Style over substance. Bao was set up by a cabal of graphic designers and it shows. The staff wear immaculate uniforms, and the ceramics are lovely. Each manicured dish arrives on a precious little plate that Kurt Wallander might eat a pastry off.
Some dishes were great, others less so. But I left feeling that Bao is a) not worth the long wait outside, and b) not worth the hype.
One such great dish, potentially one of London's best at the moment, was the Pig Trotter Nuggets.
Hot mushy pigfoot entombed in a crumb batter, served with a citric hot sauce. It stole the show.
Pickles, aubergine, and Taiwanese fried chicken were less impressive, but every dish had a kind of austere beauty, like the Lincoln Memorial or Maria Sharapova.
Regarding the bao themselves, the above logo gives a very misleading impression as to their size. What looks like a fist-sized bun is more like a glutenous macaroon.
They're pretty good, but definitely can't be shared. Braised pork with peanut power, and a pork belly bao were solid. I particularly enjoyed the lamb shoulder one topped with a punchy charmoula sauce not too dissimilar to a Tunisian Charmoula.
It all makes for a very pleasant dining experience. Ultimately , with the exception of the trotter nuggets, the only truly exciting thing about Bao is when standing in the queue across the street, watching naive diners heading straight through the front door only to be quickly sent packing. Pure unrefined schadenfreude.