Review: Baozi Inn – Spicy Sichuan Street Food in Chinatown
Published 28 May 2010
Baozi Inn was a favourite of mine for a short while when it opened about a year or two ago. I’m very much a noodles man, always preferring noodle-based dishes to rice or potatoes, and Baozi Inn do noodles very well, in particular the Sichuan type from China.
Tucked away on a side street just off the main Gerrard Street in Chinatown, it is easy to miss and never come across unless you know where it is. Part of its attraction is that unlike many of the other Chinatown establishments, this one is less frequented by tourists due to its obscure location, and so the fact that it is still thriving in the competitive Chinatown environment is testament to its food.
When you first look at the menu, there are a range of appetizers, steamed meat-filled buns, bowls of noodles, and some rice dishes. But the star attractions are their spicy noodles and their steamed buns. While we recommend ordering both a bun (the steamed pork buns are the best) and a bowl of noodle so that you can have the full experience, the steamed buns are rather big (almost as big as a saucer plate) and the portions of noodles are huge as well. One will struggle to finish both, but the two will come up less than a tenner together.
Among the noodles, the Baozi Inn speciality is the Sichuan spicy beef noodles, which includes thin noodles with pickled Chinese beans and cubes of very tender beef, all in a bowl of spicy soup. Extremely health conscious dinners will recoil in horror at the thick layer of chilli oil floating on top of the soup, but it does coat the noodles ask you lift them out of the bowl, making them extremely tasty. The noodles are probably as close as you can get in London to the traditional street food from Sichuan province in China.
Another great noodle dish to order is the Dan Dan noodles, another staple Sichuan street food, and also very spicy. This time, however, the noodles are served dry without soup, but with a generous serving of spicy sauce that contains preserved vegetables, chilli oil, minced pork, and Sichuan pepper. Sichuan pepper is quite different from normal Western pepper as it leaves a tingly numbing effect to your mouth.
To top it all off, go for the ice cold soya bean milk (also available warm), which tasted like it was home-made.
In all, Baozi Inn is a perfect place if you like spicy food, noodles, and looking for a cheap but tasty place to eat around Soho and Chinatown. On weekends it is often packed and it might be hard to get a table, but service is fast and prompt and the price is very reasonable given the portions and the delicious and authentic food.
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Cuisine: Street-style steamed buns and spicy noodles from Sichuan, a province in Northern China
Price: Under £15 per head for a very filling meal and a drink
Address: Baozi Inn, 25 Newport Court, Chinatown, London WC2H 7JS
Getting There: Leicester Square Tube Station (5 minutes walk), Piccadilly Circus Tube Station (10 minutes walk).
Opening Hours: 11.30am to 10pm daily
Booking/enquiry tel: 020 7287 6877