Updated: Sep 29, 2019
First, I tried to use one hand to pick it up. That didn't work so I then tried to use both of my hands. Then the filling kept dropping out but I didn't want to let any of the goodness go. Before I knew it, my fingers were covered in sauce and I was left with no hands to type. I had spent about five minutes intensely chowing down on this bao bun; I was definitely more consumed with chewing than I was typing and had I been working in an environment that champions micro-management, I would have surely been promptly removed and interrogated. Luckily for me, that wasn't the case and I got up to get rid of the evidence without any trouble.
I decided to visit Bento Bab on my lunch break recently. I was quickly seen to when I arrived and my food was ready in less than ten minutes.
Perhaps it was the rush, or the feeling of not wanted to waste the employee's time by being indecisive during what looked like a busy period, but I forgot to clarify the ingredients of my main dish. This is how I ended up ordering actual chicken when I really would have preferred a meat substitute. I ate it anyway.
I ordered the soy garlic chicken bibimbap. I wasn't asked about which starch I would prefer so I was given the (what I'm assuming is the default) rice bibimbap. As much as I enjoy rice, I hardly choose it when I eat out. I am more of a noodle woman. The food came in this beautiful dark plastic dish, which survived the commute back to work. I opened it in the kitchen and smiled. All of the components were still intact, looking undisturbed and obedient. What I liked about this meal, is that there were so many little parts to it that it was hard to get bored. The pickled carrots, cucumber and the noodle-like strings of cabbage were all so tasty and the right amount of each was in there. Their portions are so generous, by the way! The accidental chicken was pleasant - the batter wasn't too oily and the garlic definitely came through.
Now, for what I didn't like about the dish. There was a really sweet sauce in the dish that I was not expecting and I could have done without. Rice is really absorbent so it seemed that it swallowed the sauce and became a bit soggy. Up until I tasted the saucy parts, I was loving the food.
This is the second time you will be reading about my experience eating a bao bun and no, I won't be comparing the two to one another. The kimchi and tofu bao bun was what almost made me roll my eyes to the back of my head. They call it the K-Burger (I think all of their buns are called that). You already know the bun was soft. Let's get into the filling because that filling was PERFECT. The tofu had a deep, almost meaty flavour - it had definitely been marinated very well. The kimchi tasted how I know kimchi to taste, so no surprises there but the two worked very well together. If the tofu was flavoured in a different way, perhaps it would have resulted in a clash - kimchi is for me, is the diva that doesn't want anyone else to sing with it and will drown them out if they try. Again, the portion was great.
I picked up a couple of cheeky packets of what looked like a corn cake to me (they were very inexpensive) and I was told that they are rice cakes. Somebody on Instagram let me know that these are Chinese snacks too. Through research, I have seen that they're also referred to as rice crackers and 'Korean rice cakes' actually relate more to a dish called 'Tteokbokki' - something I have wanted to try for a hot minute. Anyway, the rice cakes / crackers were cute - again, the sugar was unexpected but not as intense as it was in its predecessor. They were very much like sugar-topped Crackerbread slices.
The bao was my favourite part of the whole meal and for that, I will visit Bento Bab again! I would also love to try their other dishes.
Do you want to try Bento Bab for yourself? Check them out here: https://en-gb.facebook.com/pg/bentobablondon/about/