With a larger premises and menu, Bun House has traded the streets of Soho for the bright lights and late-night dining of Chinatown for their new, bigger home. Opened earlier this year, Bun House 2.0 follows the same blueprint as the original site: traditional Cantonese steamed buns for a price tag less than a Tesco Meal Deal.
Spanning two floors, the restaurant-cum-drop-in pit stop comfortably seats 72, with service slick and observant. The takeaway counter, stacked high with steaming bamboo baskets delicately crammed with layers upon layers of fluffy parcels is never not busy, while tables are nabbed on a first-come-first served basis. Order at the till and, like we did, bag a downstairs window seat for some prime people watching along Lisle Street.
Paying homage to Hong Kong’s dai pal dong food stalls, the double-frontage restaurant is light yet intimate. In a nod to the country’s colonial style, Bun House is decorated with cotton rattan furniture, dark wood and opulent brass fixtures. Buns are sold at £2.50 a pop, with the closed buns filled with all manner of meats and veggies. Different to their bao cousins, Cantonese buns are slightly dense, but with a texture of fine, soft bread. The char siu pork bun was sweet and rich, featuring hunks of deliciously fatty pork belly carefully crammed inside a soft, plump parcel. Other noteworthy buns include the lamb oozing in a cumin-spiced thick gravy and the beef bun generously loaded with pudgy chunks of meat swathed in a cloak of soft, fluffy dough.
Delicate bundles aside, side dishes included street food-style bites like the crowd-pleasing smashed cucumber. A popular Chinese starter, the thickly cut wedges of cucumber were presented in a thick, syrup-like salty sauce balanced with a heavy slap of garlic, chilli and vinegar. A new addition to the menu, the rice pots, available with sweet chilli egg, scallion chicken, or chu hou beef brisket, were stick-to-your-ribs wonderful. We opted for the latter, a glutinous rice foundation covered in a mound of slowly-simmered hunks of beef in a thick and fragrant marinade. While the meat execution was spot on, the dish could have benefitted from several spoonfuls of extra sauce.
One of the best dessert buns in the business is undoubtedly the custard bun flooded with a cascading river of lava-like sweet custard. The team are so proud of their puffed-up bites squirting with oozy salted egg custard that if the bun doesn’t projectile hot, thick liquid, you can take it back for another on the house.
Bun House does what is says on tin, serving complete meals conveniently packed away in homemade dough-y wrappers. Eat in or take-away, Bun House gets our vote.
Bun House can be found at 26-27 Lisle St London WC2H 7BA.