We love a pop-up in Glasgow, and it’s safe to say there’s been a lot of buzz around the current bao-based pop-up, Bun Life at Strata, on Queen Street. I love a bao bun, and after drooling over numerous pictures on Instagram, I figured I had to get myself down there.
Given it’s popularity, I decided to go off-peak and popped in one Wednesday for a late lunch, and luckily, my friend Robyn and I pretty much had the place to ourselves! The Bun Life menu is pretty straightforward, with a selection of savoury (and sweet!) bao buns, spring rolls, chicken wings and loaded fries.
Fillings for the bao include options like panko haddock, massaman beef, chilli and garlic tofu and more. I opted for the chicken katsu and pickled cucumber, plus a portion of the sweet potato kimchi fries to share, but it took me ages to decide because I honestly could have happily ordered any of them!
It being so quiet, it didn’t take long for our food to arrive, which was ideal because I was starving. Each of the buns are served on a banana leaf and a sesame seed-crusted lime, and the two soft steamed buns are crammed with delicious filling. My bao, filled with crispy chicken, curry sauce and pickled cucumber, was topped with spring onion and chilli, and they were damn good.
The chicken inside the crispy, spiced coating was perfectly moist and the curry sauce had that classic katsu flavour. The pickled cucumber added some acidity, and the whole lot was held together by the soft dough of the bao. I am so keen to go back and try some of the other fillings, like the hoi sin chicken with crispy onions or the tempura prawns and shredded lettuce.
As great as the bao buns were, the sweet potato fries were equally as delicious! The crispy fries were topped with kimchi, sriracha mayo, spring onion and chilli and oh my are they moreish! The portion is quite large, so I suggest getting them to share. The flavours of the kimchi with the sweetness of the potato and the spicy sriracha mayo is just epic.
By this point, I was pretty stuffed, but if you still have room, there are a couple of incredible-sounding sweet bao options to choose from. The cinnamon bun ice cream and smashed peanut bao sounds right up my street, so I’ll definitely be saving room for it on my next visit.
The great thing about Bun Life, aside from how delicious it is, is the value for money. All the main bao dishes cost between £4.50 and £6, with sides starting from as little as £1.50. For two bao buns, three soft drinks and a shared portion of fries, I paid a total of £12.00, which is a bargain in my eyes, considering how satisfied I was after my meal – I didn’t eat for the rest of the day! The service was pretty much faultless and the staff were super friendly and attentive throughout.