Anyway, Miss Bun has been in business just two weeks and she is cooking up a storm; it’s certainly caught the attention of the tweeters. A one-woman operation, her menu is one small page but nothing disappoints. The buns are fluffy and full of flavour (vegetarian, pork, or chicken) and are obviously freshly prepared.
The dumplings are filled with savoury, carefully cooked melt-in-your mouth interiors that will make us reject the frozen variety so often offered. My daughter— who is particular to the point of madness — says the buns are the best. A variety of choices are available ranging from 80p to £5.
Miss Bun (real name: Ping Liu) comes from Zheng Zhou, the capital of Henan Province. She previously worked at Ikura in Belsize Park and Quan Zhang Ju in Chinatown, but now is running her own business. Her love of food and culture informs her cooking and the convivial ambience of her shop; she holds degrees in literature and a Masters in Material Culture with an emphasis on food. She describes her menu as influenced by the Cantonese region with its focus on dumplings and noodles.
We splurged (£15) and chose the hot pot for our second visit along with our dumplings and buns — the menu states for two but several more would have been satisfied. Miss Bun asked if we wanted it spicy — we bravely said absolutely and my sinuses are cleared through New Year’s.
The pot (she loaned us her actual cooking pot to take it home in — it’s that kind of place) offered simmering shrimp, rice noodles, fish balls (I know, don’t say it) lamb, ham, rice cake, tofu mushroom, kelp, Chinese leaf…utterly satisfying for a damp winter’s night. A dish for one who likes their flavours strong and wild.
Something magical happens in quality Chinese cooking: the final product is much more than the sum of the parts – and though I watched her put all the ingredients together, I am convinced some extra magic was involved in the mix. Sometimes delicious mystery is enough.
And cheap. Ridiculously cheap. So cheap I feel like I should give her more money.
Downsides? Miss Bun is a bit optimistic with time — 20 minutes to prepare is really more like 35—but free tea and a lovely chat in what is essentially someone’s kitchen makes that seem beside the point. Also she does not quite have the sauce technology down — she has sauce, but no containers to take it out in.
But these criticisms seem petty: the food is satisfying, she is putting her heart into her cooking and it is one of the best deals in the neighbourhood.