Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Baozi Inn in Chinatown

Name Baozi Inn
Address 25 Newport Ct, London, WC2H 7JS
Phone 020 72876877
Web site
Main dish price range £5-9
Rating 3 Stars. Go there, you won't be disappointed.
Recommended dishes La mian, Sichuan noodles, Giant Baozi

I remember many years ago, as an exchange student on my first poorly-founded attempt to live in the UK, I ducked into a joint in Chinatown for a quick, cheap dinner. I remember the meal as being not that good. This is notable because back then, I probably had no idea at all what a good Chinese meal actually was. Fast forward, oh, 10 years to today. I've lived in Asia, I've eaten Chinese food in the best white-table cloth establishments in Hong Kong and the finest dumpling dives in Beijing. Hell, I've eaten La Mian in Lanzhou. In Lanzhou! Which was rated by the World Bank as the worst city in the world, but is still famous forgiving the world pulled noodles, called La Mien (or in Japanese: Ramen). After gaining all that knowledge, I returned to Chinatown to get another quick, cheap meal. The result: not that bad!

Baozi Inn, in the heart of Chinatown, is part of a new wave of restaurants taking over from the older generation of greasy cantonese joints. Chinatown has for 30 years been at the epicenter of London's formidable tourist circuit, and so has always catered to tourists. The older restaurants were greared to filling the tasteless westerners such as myself, the new restaurants seem to serve mostly the masses of Chinese and Asian tourists that now appear. The improvement is great.

Baozi Inn styles itself as being a "northern chinese" restaurant. Which means they sell noodles and dumplings, the flour-based products indigenous to the Chinese North. But noodles spread all over china, most notably to the southern province of Sichuan; and Baozi Inn serves those noodles too.

The appealingly brief menu sports a variety of noodle dishes, as well as a few rice dishes and sides I haven't tried. The baozi (dumpling) selection is pretty sparse, considering the name of the place. The food, on balance, is quite good. It's flavorful and light. The latter is actually a strike against its authenticity, since any noodle joint in China would never get a single customer if the soup was served with a nice layer of grease across the top.

I've been here twice, which is an accolade I can give to only two other London restaurants (Ran and Madhu's). It's good. Go there if you're in the area. You won't be disappointed.
Pork Dumplings in Spicy Sauce

Baozi Inn on Urbanspoon

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