Supporting the move towards reducing consumption of animal produce, BaoziInn Soho has launched a brand new completely vegan and vegetarian a la carte menu. Here are our thoughts.
BaoziInn specialises in Northern Chinese food, especially dumplings, dim sum and noodles. The restaurant’s concept is inspired by the people’s commune culminated during China’s Great Leap Forward.
It’s about community and unification through cooking, sharing and eating food together. Although unification through eating food together is a great concept, it’s a little less practical in London.
But there are certainly touches of a home-like feel in the restaurant. It was buzzing when we arrived with people even queuing outside in the cold, which is always a good sign.
Located just on the edge of China Town, BaoziInn Soho is still part of a dense concentration of Chinese restaurants . Despite that it’s extremely popular and it’s not a small venue either, as I discovered when I got lost looking for the bathroom.
It’s spread out on a few levels with a total of four rooms including a downstairs. So book wisely. The tables are closely placed in the simple dark timber décor with Chinese red art touches.
We sat in the main room upstairs by the window, with me perching on a wide windowsill, which doubled as a bench, right next to a fluffy catkins bouquet with mini red lanterns and tangerines. The lingering items of the Chinese new year.
The menu is overwhelming with a lot to choose from, especially now there’s a separate vegan and vegetarian a la carte, which takes up a whole page. The vegetarian menu alone is enough to act as an independent restaurant menu.
There’s everything on it. It comes with helpful colored dots: red for spicy, green for vegan and orange for vegetarian, which is handy given how fast paced the venue it. When the staff come to take your order, you want to be ready.
We were. First comes salted egg yolk custard and cucumber in chef’s special chili oil. If you’re an Instagram or TikTok foodie, you’ll be familiar with the spicy cucumber salad trend.
This one is very similar, but not as fermented as its social media cousins. It’s pleasantly crunchy. Although it has a red dot next to it, the sauce is at the bottom so you can easily regulate the spice levels by taking less of it. It comes with a lovely crumb on top.
Next are the egg yolk buns in a bamboo steamer, piping hot they are tricky to handle but too irresistible to wait for. The middle is perfectly runny and salty with mellow fluffy bun flesh around. Immediately we want to order more.
The food is served quickly and we are struggling to keep up, especially with me taking pictures in between.
Next is multicolored dimsum. We go for a combination of carnivore and vegetarian. With just the right amount of filling, both minced and chunky, and wrapped in soft sticky dough, we can’t fault them.
We both love siu mai, which here comes in a set of 12 meaty flavours. We pair it with Baozilnn mixed vegetable fried noodles, which might sound odd but it works.
The siu mai is protein rich with prawn, Orleans chicken, mushroom and spicy prawn stuffing so the light al dente veggie noodles add the needed greens and good fibre balance.
We want something sweet to complete our meal, but Baozilnn doesn’t do desserts instead we’re offered steamed buns. Although, we do love the salty egg yolk and would absolutely come back for them alone.
We decide to try vegan and curry potato buns, both completely vegan and also in pairs. Our opinions divide there, I prefer the vegan bun with carrots, steamed chestnuts and Chinese mushrooms. For me it’s a great bun with loads of flavour and a great texture of meaty mushrooms and crunchy chestnuts.
My guest loves the curry bun with a creamy curry potato filling, and while I don’t disagree with him, for me it’s a personal preference of never liking curry spice.
We agree to disagree and leave it there, with the next guests starting to stare at our table as we overstay our booking.
The BaoziInn vegetarian and vegan a la carte menu is available exclusively at Baozilnn Soho at lunch and dinner seven days a week until the end of February.
Baozilnn Soho, 24 Romilly St, London W1D 5AH