In London, a Taiwanese Feast With Fortune-Telling Buns

The founders of the city’s beloved Bao restaurants hosted an intimate, artistic evening at their Forest Gate home.

Shing Tat Chung (left) and Erchen Chang in their living room; Chung is working on a painting of a giant bao. The light sculpture is by Isamu Noguchi.Credit…Tami Aftab

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By Sophie Bew

Shing Tat Chung and Erchen Chang, the husband-and-wife duo behind London’s beloved Bao restaurants, as well as Xu Teahouse & Restaurant, met while studying at London’s Slade School of Fine Art. And when Chang briefly returned to her home country of Taiwan after graduation, Chung and his sister, Wai Ting Chung, now the couple’s business partner, who’d both grown up in Nottingham ­— went along. A food-fueled road trip ensued, with the trio taking in Taipei and Yilan in the north, and Kaohsiung, Tainan and Pingtung in the south. They ate everything from braised beef tendon to pig’s blood cake — a kind of lollipop made from steamed pork blood and sticky rice coated in peanut powder — and, somewhere along the way, the idea for the Bao brand was born. It takes inspiration from their childhoods, Shing and Wai Ting’s spent partly at their parents’ Cantonese restaurants, and from the couple’s respective artistic sensibilities. Chang studied sculpture and Chung painting, though they both veered toward performance before finishing their degrees. Perhaps that, more than anything else, explains their proclivity for making and presenting food with theatrical flair.

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