Boa Bao Barcelona
I first tried Boa Bao in its country of origin. Which surprisingly, is Portugal. After an uncannily vertical ascent fighting a fierce wind. I wanted whatever they were having, something steaming and hot. That was January 2019. Fast forward two years Boa Bao Barcelona has arrived. On the well-heeled Placa de Dr Letamendi.
The interior is fantastical. Like a themed Disney park. Different views conjuring far off places. One wall a dead ringer for a street in Vietnam. A bar that could be in Bali. Layer after layer of vaguely Asian kitsch.
The food is inspired by South East Asia. Woks, dim sums, curries and the namesake baos. They use the word sophisticated on their website which could be cringey if weren’t for the fact that there are two other bao places in the city that are decidedly not. They happen to share almost identical names (Bao Bao).
As the restaurant is named after the steamed Bao sandwich, we order two. They come in an array of photogenic colours including the black bao filled with succulent fried seabass (7.5€). It is spectacular and worth the price of admission. The steamed pancetta (5.9€) is nice though it relies on the condiments for memorability. Ah the condiments. Tiny saucers of spicy heaven. Not blow your head off hot, of course not, it would be easier to spot a unicorn, but helpful to add on layers of flavour.
There are scallops in their shells (9.9€) served with a ceramic shot glass of green sour salsa, not unlike Mexican tomatillo. And moreish moneybag shaped wontons fried dark and filled with chicken and prawns (6.5€). It’s all smack your lips good. The starters in particular. Unless it’s a cold day and you need warming up but when does that really happen in Barcelona?
My advice would be to park yourself in the starter section. Get a selection of things. Certainly, something fried and as many Bao as you can pay for. Dessert is probably best up the road at DelaCrem. Or you could well end as you began (hopefully) with a Boa Bao cocktail from Tikki style bar.
The cheap Bao Bao on Foodi in Barcelona here.
*I was the plus 1 of Isabelle Kliger, you can read her review for Forbes here.