The title of this post is actually a personal in joke with myself. Yes, I truly am that lame – I have been getting away with it for years! Its a joke because every time I type bao in my phone, my phone auto-corrects it to BAO. I think this is because it knows how excited I am. If I know I am going to eat bao at Lucky Bao or at Hallelujah I am beyond excited. I tell people who don’t care – I once emailed my grandma to let her know *that’s nice, dear* and I shamelessly brag about it on twitter.
I pretty much lose my shit and it is not graceful. And my phone knows.
So maybe if my phone knows, you should all know too.
I am a huge fan of Cheyne’s which creates brilliant shared plates. Cheyne’s is not formal per se but is definitely special occasion and can bring with it a pretty pricey bill.. Have a read because Cheyne’s is without a doubt one of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town.
Lucky Bao is a more casual option right next door to Cheyne’s and they create incredible baos, fancy hot dogs and yakatoris. On my first visit we actually rented the whole place out – sounds impressive until you find out it is just a half moon bar that seats eight. We booked it for a birthday party and it was the BEST fun! I have subsequently been back and sat at a corner of the bar with other happy faces eating baos.
What to eat at Lucky Bao
1) The Baos
I’m a little smug about Lucky Bao because I have eaten almost everything on the menu. And I have made sure to double check all the baos! Of the four fat fluffy stuffed boas my favourites are the belly bao and the fu bao. The belly bao is stuffed with grilled pork belly, soy, maple and sriracha. The pork belly is sweet and tender and delicious! The fu bao was the biggest surprise! This was a tofu tempura bao with pickled shiitake and lime aioli. This was a huge winner! Great options for the veggies!
I used to not be bothered about tofu but I find I am ordering it more and more because restaurants are doing really great things with it!
The crispy tempura’d tofu with the pickled mushrooms and the creamy aioli is the most moreish umami pairing and is pure bao magic!
The sea bao of soft shell crab with lemongrass and fennel salad is also fantastic. However, I feel the crab doesn’t pack as much flavour as our favourite two. The bird bao is filled with roasted sticky duck, fuji apple and sesame jam. And again is really delicious but falls out of the top two as it is a little sweet.
The boas are served with some really delicious kimchi so don’t be scared to ask for a little more for extra heat!
2) The Hotdog
This crazy overboard hot dog is another delight! The lucky dog is grilled bratwurst with slaw, nori and sour sriracha with plenty of sushi mayo! This crazy hot dog is seriously messy and worth all the fuss! The crispy skinned grilled bratwurst and pickled slaw is a power player on the Lucky Bao menu. This was a more recent addition which I only tried on my second visit. I have made sure to add it to my regular order.
They are really fabulous kebabs served with lots of dipping sauce! Make sure to ask for a spoon with this dish to get all of the sauce! Again, my favourite is the veggie option! The mushroom yakatori is skewered king oysters and shitake mushrooms which marinated with lime and yuzu butter. These mushrooms are amazing and meaty and covered with zesty buttery sauce.
The chicken yakatori is amazing and comes with a tom yum, peanut butter and coconut cream sauce. The chicken is super tender and the creamy rich sauce should definitely been scooped out of the bowl with a spoon!!
And don’t forget dessert!
Our sweet finish was the strawberry and miso shake and again full marks for the taste sensation!! This was the perfect sweet, creamy and slightly tart. Miso is normally salty and can bring an umami element to a dish. I thought the miso would make the milkshake salty but it brings out the umami flavour and savoury elements. This is delicious and make sure to get one to share because its really rich and decadent!
- Location: Pam Arlene Place, Main Road, Hout Bay
- Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 5pm til 10pm and 12pm til 3pm from Thursday til Saturday
- Contact details: 079 067 4919