The Bao Haus Co.

We have seen a lot of restaurants that have sprung up in the last couple of years that have made eating out a whole new experience. And now, “eating in” seems to be the new fad that has hit the city; with home delivery becoming a convenient option for many foodies. We’re not talking about the run-of-the-mill food that many takeaway joints are offering nowadays. The Bao Haus Co. just got added to our list of some of our favourite eat-in food that this city has to offer.

So here’s a little background information about the place, and how this came into being. We had an interesting discussion with Chef Siddharth Somaiya to understand where it all started. Interestingly, before he got into The Culinary Institute of America, he signed up for a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration due to his parents insisting that he should. As destiny would have it, he couldn’t give up his passion for food, and he chose to pursue what he knew was his true calling. After interning at three-starred Michelin restaurants in Manhattan, (He recalls this as the time he learned some of his most important life lessons, and working at these restaurants taught him a lot about disciple, ingredients and organizational skills.) he came back Mumbai and the inception of the The Bao Haus Co. began.

The Bao Haus Co. as the name suggests, was partly inspired by the BaoHaus at 14th St. New York. Chef Siddharth knew that he wanted to showcase baos in ways that are completely new and that appeal to the growing appetite of foodies in Mumbai. It was natural for him to be innovative, and with his culinary experience, bring in internationally inspired, hand crafted Vietnamese steamed buns with a twist. The focus is to be versatile, fresh and deliver baos that play with your taste buds every time you bite into one. With ingredients that are unique, mostly made in-house and some imported, to be certain that the quality he wants is achieved.

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We started off with Hickory Smoked Wings with Garlic Yoghurt; man it was uber crispy and crunchy. There have been many restaurants in the city trying to get the good ol “Buffalo Wings” right, and have failed miserably. These are, by far, the best we’ve ever had. There’s a fraction of a second after you bite into a wing the first time, that makes your eyes pop and go wide, and then it’s easy to decide. It’s science. An instant connection. Your brain automatically decides, and you’re already going in for the next bite . Chef Siddharth realized that the ones he had served us were a bit too salty, but Garlic Yoghurt compensated for it. We had no complaints. This is a must have for every party. You’ll have people showing up for your parties just for these Hickory Smoked Wings. Haha! Moving on…

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We then had the Belgian Pork Belly Burger with Caramelised Onions and Sriracha Cheddar. It may look small, and you will not find the usual slices of tomato, lettuce and onion, and it won’t be smothered with mayo or have a dilapidated slice of cheese. This is a simple pork belly burger, made in a way burgers are supposed to be made. The imported Belgian pork belly, is carefully ground just right to retain its optimum flavour, seasoned lightly, and we guess it’s broiled with cheddar that’s mixed with sriracha to form a lovely gooey blanket that envelopes the burger, which is then sandwiched in a Brioche Bun that’s made in-house. You really have to taste it to believe it. It’s the bomb! Their in-house Sriracha sauce is to die for. We saw the jar in which the next batch of chillies were being fermented. For a die-hard Sriracha fan like me, that was heavenly.

And now, it was Bao time! 🙂

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We tried the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Baos first. This soft and supple bao has thin slices of chicken that are deep fried and tossed in Honey Sriracha Glaze and it is topped with a sesame slaw. The sesame slaw was so fresh, we could tell the finely julienned veggies were hand mixed just before they were topped on the crispy chicken pieces in the steamed bao. The combination of textures, temperatures and flavours is what makes The Bao Haus Co. unique. We really loved the magic that was happening in our mouths with every single bite.

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The next Bao had its own melange of flavours that made us weak in our knees. We love Asian food, and Thai food is our favourite. The Coconut Shrimp Bao just hit the sweet spot! It was Thailand in a bao. The coconutty deep fried shrimp that had a lovely tamarind glaze oozed of Thai flavours. We could taste the shrimp paste in the tamarind glaze. It was sprinkled with a magic dust, Kaffir Lime Salt. We wonder how much time was taken to perfect this bao coz Thai flavours are strong and to see how these ingredients were added in perfect proportions to create that balance, just blew our mind. We even had the Kaffir Lime and Ginger Soda, it was different, not very sweet, just right.

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It was time to have the Bao that we couldn’t hear enough of. The Chocolate Bao. To paraphrase our Friend, Joey Tribbiani, “Brûléed Bananas, GOOD, Marshmallows, GOOOD, Walnut Crumble, GOOOOD!” This bao was just what we needed to end our meal. We were happy to know that the marshmallows were made in-house, would’ve loved it even more if they were torched.

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Here’s another thing! With Halloween being round the corner, Chef Siddharth Somaiya has created a special dish which can be relished by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Inspired by fall vegetables, and the colors synonymous with Halloween, Chef Siddharth Somaiya presents the “Carrot Bao with Quinoa Patty, Arugula & Goat Cheese Salad with Beet Chips” It’s an ode to eating healthy, with a Halloween spin! The carrot gives the bao, the bright orange color; we can only imagine the lovely flavour combo of quinoa, arugula and Goat’s cheese with beet! Something worth trying!

We like the fact that the bread, sauces and accompaniments are made in-house. It just reflects how much the Chef respects the final product. Ingredients are available frozen now-a-days, and it may seem easy to start a delivery joint, but after trying The Bao Haus Co., we can tell the benchmark it wants to set. We saw his commitment with how he ran his kitchen while we were there. Attention to minute details and monitoring everything with precision, spoke volumes of where he wants his brand to be. Everyone who loves food to the point of obsession, and those who put textures and flavours at utmost importance in their dining experience, has got to try this! We wish Chef Siddharth all the best with this venture and we would definitely be back to try more.

P.S They’re limited to deliveries in South Mumbai for now.

Shiro

We decided to drop by Shiro to try their Dim Sum menu – The Shiro Collection. The festival that was on from 10th June to 7th July, 2015. We’ve been to Shiro a couple of times before and have loved the food.

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The ambience at Shiro is calm and soothing. The sound of the trickling water, the huge stone statues and the high ceiling adds to the whole Asian experience. Though we’d always talk about how the low lighting and the tomb raider feel of the restaurant, we have always had a nice time.

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The dim sum meal was accompanied with Chinese tea. They had four options – Green Long Ding, Jasmine Mandarin, Roses in Bloom, White Tea with Raspberry. As soon as I saw the menu, we wanted to try the White Tea with Raspberry because we love fruit flavoured tea, but were disappointed to know that it was not available. We chose to go with the Roses in Bloom tea instead. The flavour of this tea was really interesting. It had rose petals, licorice, fennel, aniseed, black and white pepper, and nutmeg. The first sip was refreshing. The tea was aromatic, and the flavour of each ingredient was so vivid, you could distinctly recognise it. But we thought it would overpower the mild dim sum flavours, so changed it to the Green Long Ding tea, as it’s mild and not complex.

For dim sum we chose – Crab meat Dumpling, Phoenix Eye Dumpling, Prawn Nest Dumpling, Prawn & Asparagus Dumpling, Chicken Shen Jian Bao, and Lobster with Laksa Sauce.

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We started off with the Phoenix Eye Dumpling. It looked like an eye as it was topped with an edamame bean on top of the opening of the dim sum wrapper. This was the best tasting dumpling of the night, we loved how fresh the prawns were and it had a certain bite to it. It was plump, juicy and flavourful.

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The Crabmeat dumpling was a huge letdown. It’s just disappointing when restaurants use faux meat. Not expected of Shiro.

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The Prawn & Asparagus Dumpling were nice. We loved the added texture the tender asparagus gave to the dish. The dumplings looked cute and were cooked really well.

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Then we tried the Chicken Shen Jian Bao, a pan fried bao, a speciality of Shanghai, which is usually filled with pork. These were topped with sesame seeds and fried chives. The chicken and onion filling was tender, it was beautifully cooked and tasted great.

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Before the waiter could get the next basket of dim sum, he informed us that they didn’t have lobster. We were a lil disappointed and chose to go with fish instead. The waiter got us the basket and there were two tiny fillets of Basa fish laced with Laksa sauce. It smelled wonderful and tasted insanely awesome. The flavours were spot on but we expected the portion to be at least twice as much.

We waited almost 45 mins for our next dim sum basket. The waiter comes to our table with two menus in his hand. He apologized for the delay and asked us to change our order. We were surprised and wondered what took him so long to inform us about it. He promptly smiled and said, his exact words were Sorry sir, can you please order something else besides the Nest Dumpling?. We asked why. “No, Sir. It’s not coming properly.” 🙂 We were obviously shocked to hear him say what he said, but were amused by his honesty. We changed the order and asked the waiter to get us another Phoenix Eye dumpling again.

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About 10 minutes later, the waiter surprised us and got us the Prawns Nest dumpling. It was worth the wait. The light crispy net like exterior and the soft prawn filling was delicious, and we wanted more. It was an awesome dumpling to end our dinner with.

The one thing that put us off was the extremely slow service. It was frustrating to have to keep asking the waiter to serve us more tea. We had to remind them over and over. It was also a let down to know that quite a few of the dim sums mentioned on the menu were not available. They didn’t have pork and lobster. The servers were talking too loudly, we even heard them grumble about another customer, call him names and giggle. That was not pleasant at all. The food and the ambience were great, but Shiro needs to seriously train their staff to be more professional, responsible and polite.

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