Little Bao Size Does Matter

[21/11/13] 

If there is one trend that’s dominating the Hong Kong culinary scene at the moment, it’s innovation on simple Asian street food. Led by the likes of Fatty Crab, Three Monkeys, and Yardbird, and more recently by Chachawan and Chom Chom, the simple fare of the streets is being given an impressive new interpretation, challenging and comforting our palates at the same time. But the key is to not stray too far from the food’s blue collar origins; give it a new look but don’t go overboard; cater to every man’s palate, not just the hipsters’.

 

Unfortunately Little Bao, which recently opened on the rather neglected end of Staunton Street, has done just that. The idea is sound; chef May Chow, an institution in Hong Kong’s culinary circles, has taken her stall at Island East Markets and turned it into a full-fledged 1950s-esque diner, where she serves up the Asian bao ‘burgers’ as well as a handful of other fun dishes, from fried orange chicken with egg yolk to short rib dumplings. The fault is in the execution; the space is tiny, meaning that while ten patrons get a front row view of the kitchen, the other half are stacked like books against a bare wall. Staff that can’t stop pacing (bumping diners with each pass) add to the sense of claustrophobia, as does the blaring stereo. Combine that with a hefty price tag – the baos are the size of a toddler’s fist and weigh in at HK$78 so don’t go here if you’ve been bar-hopping – and it’s the same old story, you’re paying for the rent, not the gloriously braised pork belly fillings or Chow’s innovation.

A case of style over substance.


Little Bao
66 Staunton Street, Central
2194 0202
www.little-bao.com


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