Food: BangBao, the best new vegan restaurant in Brighton

BangBao, a fully vegan bao bun restaurant in central Brighton is everything you could ever want and a whole lot more.

At a time when most of us have been screaming into the abyss and wondering just how we are going to make it to summer, BangBao, a vegan bao bun joint in Brighton’s North Laine, has come to save the day.

Nestled among the hubbub of North Road, BangBao quietly opened in the early days of 2021, and is now beginning to pick up serious traction – and for good reason.

We locked in the biggest order our stomachs could handle on Friday 26 February and in the plainest possible terms, it was absolutely fucking incredible.

In the name of science we ordered all three of the restaurants signature baos – hoisin oyster mushroom, Indonesian ‘pork’ belly and Korean fried ‘chicken’ – a pot of fries loaded with kimchi, fried onions, Japanese mayo and curry sauce and some serious pickled cauliflower.

With bao buns being the restaurant’s stock in trade, it seems pertinent to judge the majority of the review on them. Luckily they did not disappoint.

The buns themself were the best we have tried since turning vegan, the perfect marriage of pliable, pillowy lightness with reassuringly sticky structure. At this stage it must be mentioned that the packaging and delivery were exceptional, meaning that the steamed clouds of carbohydrate joy had neither gone soggy and pappy, nor dry and brittle.

There is a whole world out there of bullshit Pan-Asian imitation cooking. Whether it be drowned in MSG to chase artificial umami, or rendered miserably underseasoned because of some misguided health crusade, it can so often go so very wrong.

The plucky chefs at BangBao have navigated this line admirably and all three of the signature baos came with deep, sticky sauces, ladled on in almost-but-not-quite-ridiculous quantities. It ended up on your palms and wrists, but not all over the carpet.

The Idonesian ‘pork’ belly and hoisin oyster mushroom creations were the pick of the bunch – with the former’s sticky BBQ sauce perfectly paired with a refreshingly sweet caramelised chutney the highlight of the meal.

The pickled cauliflower side did exactly what it says on the tin, but in a food scene such as Brighton’s – where taste itself is often sacrificed at the altar of some misplaced Buddha bowl wellbeing bullshit – that in itself is a victory.

The loaded fries were the perfect trashy accompaniment to the properly restaurant-y deliciousness of the baos and pickles, although whether or not you’d want to drink curry sauce straight from the pot in the actual restaurant, in front of other actual people, may be a limiting factor to their enjoyment later down the line.

The bottom line is, that in the ever-crowded world of the Brighton vegan scene, BangBao is just what was needed. We have all enjoyed food from The Pond on Meat Free days, and all been let down by most of the other bao offerings, so to have a dedicated restaurant serving up such high quality fare is an absolute blessing.

It is destined to become your new go to, and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

BangBao is exclusively available on Uber Eats.

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