Friday, 19 September 2008

Noodles and Dumplings - Baozi Inn

I dragged Stuart all the way to Chinatown last weekend amidst much excitement to try out Baozi Inn. The reviews were good and the menu sounded even better. At long last, I thought, there could possibly be a place to get some different Chinese food. We arrived at the about 5.00 in the afternoon, probably one of the most ungodly hours to turn up at a restaurant - but we beat the crowds and got a table. The seating is a little squashed and the place is decorated with Chinese Communist propaganda tack - not that I mind, mind you - it's pretty darn different and it did bring a few smiles to Stuart and I.

Pork Dumplings with Chili and Garlic - Baozi Inn

The menu is limited, good or bad, I'm not quite sure. As we were pretty hungry, we decided to share a pork baozi, a steamed minced pork filled bun (about £2 each) - no photos I'm afraid. It came out pipping hot and was very tasty. A little sloppy to share with the filling spilling out as I tried to split it the bun. Much, much better than the buns from the baozi stall opposite the restaurant. Next up, the pork dumplings with chilli and garlic (about £4 per portion). There were five dumplings to a portion and very good they were too. The dumplings were meaty and the chili oil imparted a good amount of heat. As much as I love garlic (I do get a little garlic mad at times)...this was way too much. It tasted as if a whole bulb was used for just one little dish. I tasted and breathed garlic for the rest of the evening and everyone else I passed on the street must have smelt the fumes.

Pork and Aubergine Sauce Noodles - Baozi Inn

Stuart chose the pork and aubergine sauce noodles (about £6.50). The little chunks of meat were very tender and went well with the aubergine on the noodles. The dish also came with fresh, green soybeans and little baby pak choy. From the little taste I had, I think the pork and aubergine was cooked with some bean paste. The dish sounds good, looks good... but unfortunately didn't taste that great. There was a lack of depth in the flavour as I would expect from a dish like this. Stuart allowed me to spoon over a little bit of extra chili oil. It gave it a slightly different dimension but the flavour was still flat.

Noodles with Pork Ribs and Musrooms - Baozi Inn

I wanted something with soup and uncertain how spicy their spicy noodles were, I played it safe and ordered the pork rib and mushroom noodles. The meat was tender (if I was really picky...I would say it could have been cooked a tad bit longer) and quite generous with 5-6 ribs but meat looked a Dyed pink rather than uncooked pink ... hmm... The soup was such a letdown. It lacked the punch and 'oomph' of a good meat broth. Actually it only had slight traces of meatiness, which demonstrated to me that meat and soup wasn't cooked for long enough. It was also lacked seasoning. I did ask for extra soy sauce and chili oil, which I used liberally. I ended up with a soy sauce and chili oil soup. Oh how disappointing!

If only the punch and flavour from the baozi and dumplings continued to the noodle dishes... the food here would be great. I love the dish combinations - pork and aubergine...Stuart and I fought to order it. However, I have read favourable reviews of this restaurant; perhaps it was the ungodly hour of my visit then? I would go back for the dumplings (minus the garlic, unless I feel particularly inclined towards a spot of vampire hunting that day) and the baozi, which I believe can be ordered as a takeaway.

Baozi Inn
25 Newport Court, London WC2H 7JS

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