It’s odd when one goes to a restaurant, thoroughly enjoys the food, but can’t recommend it to friends. Little Bao located in SoHo district of Hong Kong, is one of those rare instances.
In 90% of these instances, it’s a terrible experience with the waitstaff or extremely slow service, but this wasn’t the case with Little Bao. We had really good food, the reason is that it’s severely overpriced for the experience and value.
Even in the face of decent food, Little Bao doesn’t add up. On our visit we shared the short rib pan fried dumplings, the Szechuan fried chicken bao, the Sloppy Chan bao and a couple of their signature drinks. All of which were above average to very delicious. Where they fell short was the small portion sizes and an atmosphere and service which were less than ordinary.
At the end of the meal, which was spent at the bar seating asking for refills on our water, we walked out paying approximately $80 USD for one appetizer, three drinks and two moderately-sized baos. At first read, that might sound like a lot, but the main courses are baos and you got one that was just a tad larger than the size of a pork bun you’d get a dim sum restaurant for $11.50 USD (or 88 HKD). I understand that the quality is significantly elevated, but the portion you pay for is unacceptable. Even with the appetizer, we walked out knowing that we’d be hungry in an hour.
The Higher the Check the Higher the Expectations
The $80 USD isn’t unusual for two New Yorkers that just dined out at a semi-popular sit down restaurant in the middle of Manhattan, but this was the definition of a hipster casual diner off the beaten path in Hong Kong. The place had all of four small tables, bar seating that allowed for another 8-10 people, and a vibe that wasn’t warm, friendly nor inviting with clumsy, inconsistent impersonal service. I don’t think I saw a smile the entire time we were there.
I want to be clear that I’m not a food snob, but what I am confident in is my keen sense of what I should receive for a particular price point. The higher the check comes out to, it becomes more than just the food. For example, I won’t complain about service or portions when I’m paying $6 for noodles or a sandwich. At the amount we doled out at Little Bao, there simply needed to be more. Whether that was in the portion sizes, the service or atmosphere.
As mentioned above, the more you charge for the food the more other factors are considered in one’s review. At nearly $12 USD for a very good, yet medium-sized pork bun, we needed more. Little Bao didn’t excel in any other areas besides food and because of that, we left unsatisfied with the value and experience we received. For that, we gave Little Bao two stars
66 Staunton Street, SoHo
Hong Kong Island