I move around with my job fairly frequently, being that I am freelance these days. I really enjoy the variety of moving to different offices, working with different people and also working in different areas of London. Having spent the last two and a bit years in West London, I am relieved to not have to schlep over there anymore. At the moment I am working for a content agency in Shoreditch, and am very much enjoying the range of lunch time options open to me. I’m a big fan of Whitecross Street Market on Thursdays and Fridays, especially Luardo’s van. YUM!
But one hot, sunny lunchtime this week I decided it was time to try Yum Bun. Yum Bun make gua bao (Taiwanese steamed, filled buns to the uninitiated) from a short menu with options for pork, chicken, salmon or veggie. You can also get a bento box, which comes with 2 buns, a handful of veggie goyza, miso soup and a salad.
I sidled up to the small shop front and joined a queue of Shoreditch hipsters. My lunch buddy, Simon, stood at my side and busily moaned about how trying new places always means queuing (he was NOT a fan of Meat Liquor). I had to say, after being the first in the queue for 15 mins with no acknowledgement from the staff, I was begrudgingly coming around to his way of thinking. Then I was called forward and placed my order and parted with the best part of £8 for a Bento box. Simon’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline and he muttered something about Tesco’s sandwiches. Simon is not a fan of trends. Well, modern trends. I don’t know why Simon is getting such a starring role in this blog post, it’ll only encourage him and he really does not need that.
Anyway, then I waited. There were probs about 4 people in front of me. I waited and waited. Simon left to go to Tescos. I waited. While I was there the staff behind the counter had tetchy exchanges, which always annoys me: dudes, if you have a problem with each other don’t show it in front of customers, yeah? Thirty minutes of pass agg staff and sighing later I was called forward. My buns were dressed and I was given a bag and off I trotted back to the office just in time for the end of my lunch break. Wicked.
I was now grimly determined to HATE those stupid, pretentious Taiwanese buns that stole £8 of my hard-earned money and an hour of my time. The service was crap too, I grumbled to myself in my head. “This is definitely going to be terrible and I’ll write a review saying it’s all crap and that’ll make me feel better,” I thought as I got to grips with my first bun, a chicken number with tartare sauce.
However, as soon as I bit into my chicken bun, I was filled with horror and disappointment: this bun was good. It was beautifully seasoned, with a delicately-balanced and nicely sharp tartare dressing. The buns were soft and chewy, like savoury marshmallows. “Great, now I can’t write an arsey review,” I thought, my resolve quickly fading. I’m nothing if not a negative person, guys.
I then was ready for my pork belly bun, with plum sauce. I knew it was going to be great, and this time I wasn’t wrong.
I get slightly unnerved by how much fat is on pork belly and what it might do to my arteries, but this was good. The pork was soft and pulled apart easily. The plum sauce was lightly smokey and pretty sweet. There was some salad in there too to give a bit of a crunch texture, and to bring it together so it was like those ubiquitous duck pancakes you get in all Chinese gaffs.
The veggie goyzas were lovely and crisp. The inside was a little insipid, but I often find that to be the way with veggie rolls. The salad was nicely dressed and acted as a nice palate cleanser after the pork. The miso soup? Could have done without it. I mean, it was fine and yeah, I did eat/drink most of it but it didn’t add a whole lot.
Would I go back? Probably not. There’s far too many other gems in Shoreditch to discover to worry about going back to the same place twice. I believe Yum Bun is a pop-up, which is perhaps for the best as they don’t really have a lengthy enough menu to keep people coming back, especially if they have to spend a good portion of their lunchtime queuing. Would I recommend it to you? Sure, go for it. Maybe avoid rush hours, but it’s a good, filling lunch-esque snack. Maybe on pay day, as it’s a bit steep for a regular lunch.
Yum Bun, 31 Featherstone Street, EC1Y 2BJ
Nearest tube: Old Street