Review of Bun House - oozing custard buns in a speakeasy bar!
About a year ago, I saw the corner spot of Greek Street in Soho boarded up. Upon closer inspection, the sign said a new bun house was opening soon. That got me excited and I immediately started my research into what this could be! I eventually discovered it was Bun House and drooled over their Instagram pictures for months on end.
Finally at the end of March 2017, Bun House opened it’s doors. Initially they were only serving in their main bun house on street level. Upon entering, you’re greeted with their beautifully designed counter. In the middle, is where all the buns are kept warm inside traditional Chinese bamboo steamers. Each bun is carefully taken out of the steamer, and prior to serving, is stamped with it’s respective Chinese character. For example, 蛋 (egg) for the custard bun, 猪(pork) for the pork bun. There’s also a choice of side dishes like the deep fried duck tongue, or even their homemade pickles to try.
A month later in April 2017, Bun House launched their downstairs tea room – which you enter by the green door round to the side of Bun House. Despite it’s name, it’s actually a speakeasy bar and transforms you into a 1960s Hong Kong vibe. There’s a wide range of cocktails, mocktails and other traditional Hong Kong café drinks to choose from. The food served in the tea room includes the buns from upstairs, as well as a number of other traditional Chinese dim sum dishes with a modern twist.
Here’s everything that I had:
Lotus Crisps (£4.80) – these seem to be the new craze in the UK right now, with an appearance even on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen! They are thinly sliced lotus roots, deep fried until crispy and then seasoned with a little salt. Super moreish, and a perfect snack with a drink.
Crispy Tofu (£5.80) – who said tofu is boring? These ones from Bun House certainly weren’t! Mini triangular pieces of tofu, coated in cornmeal, deep fried and served with a spicy soy and fish sauce dip. Another perfect little snack with drinks.
Garlicky Wings (£6.80) – going for drinks wouldn’t be the same without wings and these garlicky wings from Bun House were a joy to eat. They were covered in a sweet sticky sauce and each wing was decorated with a basil leaf – for flavour and visual effect!
Lacey Dumplings (£7.80) – my mum ordered these, and we weren’t really sure what they were. But we were blown away when the plate arrived. The lace is a sheet of crispy batter, and when lifted, the gem like pot sticker dumplings are revealed. The dumplings were faultless – thin pastry, with the perfect amount of Chinese chive and pork filling (my favourite). Whilst the lace was tasty, I don’t think it added much to the dish and would’ve been happy with just the dumplings.
Iberico Char Siu Clay Pot Rice (£12.80) – this is as Chinese as you can get. Rice cooked in a clay pot, means you get lovely crispy bits around the sides of the pot which are a delight to eat. Using Iberian pork is Bun House’s way of pimping up what otherwise is a humble dish of roast pork and rice. This pot is served piping hot, and you can still hear it sizzling away on the table. I’d say there’s not much rice for the price you’re paying, but the Iberian char siu makes up for it.
Lamb Shoulder and Oyster Mushroom Skewers (£2.50 each) – probably a bit expensive for what they were. There are seven different skewers for you to choose from, three of which are vegetarian. The lamb shoulder skewer was perfectly cooked and quite spicy. Despite being quite a carnivore, I actually enjoyed the oyster mushrooms more as they were soft and juicy.
Bao (£2.50 each) – of course you can’t come to Bun House and not have their baos (the Chinese word for bun). Cantonese baos are sealed, which means the lovely filling is fully encased in a fluffy white bun. Bun House serve theirs in a bamboo steamer, which keeps the buns warm for you. I tried the pork (pig on the menu) and vegetarian (mix of mushrooms) baos. Both were nice and packed full of filling.
But the best was of course the custard bao.
Isn’t it just beautiful? How the egg custard filling just oozes out in all it’s glory. Be careful how you tuck into these though, the runny custard filling is piping hot and things can get messy!
Sticky Milk Donut (£2.80) – as if I wasn’t stuffed with enough baos, I had these little deep fried ones too! Traditionally, these would be served with a side pot of condense milk for you to dip the bao into. To my surprise, these were filled with the condense milk! So a really good alternative (or in my case an addition) to the custard bao.
My long wait to visit Bun House was truly worth it. Everything had been well thought out, from the food to the drinks, the décor, the music and even their uniform. As it’s still early days for Bun House, the staff were still finding their feet and I think the coordination between them was a little confused at times. However, there’s no doubt the Tea Room is going to become one of the coolest hangout place in Chinatown for a while.
Address: 23-24 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4DZ
Phone: 020 8017 9888
Opening Hours: Monday to Wednesday 11am-11pm, Thursday 11am-midnight, Friday to Saturday 11-late, Sunday 12-10pm