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Introduction to Grub on the Thames
By: Cameron Rogers
Welcome to Cameron’s Grub on The Thames! Cameron is a bald, bumbling Brit with an insatiable desire to eat as much as humanly possible within the bustling metropolis of London! Starting the blog in Shanghai and having it cut short by COVID in Taiwan, Cameron aims to continue with his food explorations closer to home. You can find Cameron’s witty explorations and son ancien contenu at Grub on the Thames or here on Eklectish. Put your computer in your lap and give it a crack - because when COVID allows travel and eating out again this particular corner of Eklectish will be a sapiential guide for eaters.
Given that I last wrote about food in Taiwan, it makes an awful lot of sense to begin again in London with a post on Taiwanese food. Transporting elements of the past into the present with us. The blog comes full circle so it may continue afresh.
Myself and a cohort of peckish pals traipsed into the depths of the yuppie hive that is Borough Market. Our destination was Bao – a Taiwanese restaurant of medium proportions. Bao finds its original home in Fitzrovia. Upmarket, nouveau and très chic, it’s not the place for people on a budget. The same cannot be said for their rice box takeouts though, which were what my accomplices and I were after. The rice boxes are given out by a branch of the restaurant that calls itself Rice Error, which is affixed to the main restaurant.
The Bao rice boxes are moderately priced (I stress that “moderately” is London speak for fairly pricey) takeout rice boxes (surprise) coming in all shapes and sizes. The options cost between £9 for your cheapest and £14 for your most expensive. Being the cheap geezer that I am, I went for the mapo tofu and omelette rice box that stands at a “moderate” £9.75. Just so I can make sure that I am not following through with becoming a vegetarian (a future aspiration of mine), I also purchased a lovely fried chicken bao for £5.75. This I made sure to wash down with the Bao Oolong lager for £5.00.
I perched myself on a singular chair to get through the bao and beer whilst my friends ordered for themselves. I began with the fried chicken bao, which was okay. The pickled onion that is atop the chicken adds a yummy salty hit, while the spicy mayo balances this nicely. The batter of the chicken is also a welcome addition, giving the bite an extra bit of crisp. I have to say the chicken itself is somewhat flavourless. As my wise flat mate Ross correctly stated, the bao is “good but not great” (he allocated a score of 7/10). It is certainly not worth £5.75 however, so consider avoiding this option if you visit the Error.
The marginally above average bao however set me up nicely for the Oolong beer. The beer is very refreshing. It is a light lager that justifies its lofty London price, and is certainly worth purchasing in its own right. It also has a happy cartoon on the side of a man hugging a pint of beer. If that doesn’t endear you to the brew, I don’t know what will. It was at this point that my friends finished up their orders, so we migrated to the side of the Thames to enjoy the rice boxes with a view.
The tofu is peppery with a little spice, counterbalanced with a saltiness that may be a little intense for some. The omelette is yummy, however its main purpose is to ameliorate the texture of the dish. The majority of the flavour is coming from the red sauce atop the photo below. This is an enjoyable meal but is it worth £9.75? I honestly think if this box was about £2.00 less it would be a perfect purchase – but it is just a little too expensive for what it is. I have also been informed that I got pretty damn lucky. Two accomplices of mine (one of which is pictured below) got the vegan rice box. I am determined to keep curse words off this article – but let’s just say they used one word to describe the box and it began with “S”.
So all in all – not a mind blowing experience. Granted, I have had the best that Taiwan itself has to offer, so I may have particularly high standards. I am also needing to adjust myself back to London prices. However even with those things considered, I don’t think that Rice Error is anything to write home about - especially considering the fact that the Bao restaurant itself is capable of so much better.
Address: 3 Stoney St, Borough Market, London SE1 9AD Price for rice box (omelette and mapo tofu), fried chicken bao and Oolong beer: £20.50