What makes Erchen Chang a Global Shaker?
Erchen Chang is head chef at Bao, Bao Fitzrovia and Xu, three of London’s hottest culinary sites. She’s also considered the person who popularised the bao in the UK — taking it from an obscure Taiwanese dish to something available in supermarkets, and even cited as one of UK consumers’ favourite East Asian dishes.
Chang experiments freely and is driven by a desire to bring tastes and flavours from Taiwan, where she grew up, into the heart of the UK. She moved to London when she was 14, and credits her love of street food to her time spent eating at night markets in Taiwan. She met her future husband and restaurant partner Shing Tat Chung while studying at University College London. Together, the two of them, alongside Tat Chung’s sister, Wai Ting Chung, opened Bao as a street food site in 2012.
This eventually graduated to a permanent site, with Chang and Tat Chung working in the kitchen, and Ting Chung working as Front of House. Another permanent location followed, then a more formal dining experience, through Xu. This offers Taiwanese dishes like ‘thousand year-old-egg’, pigs blood cake, and a blood wonton in fermented beetroot broth.
Chang tells Food and Spark that Bao is “very reactive” to what’s going on now, while Xu is “digging deeper into what has been done before.” The restaurants have become renowned for their menu, and for queues that snake around the corner on a nightly basis. “Worth it though because Chang’s food is seriously good,” The Handbook writes.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Chang said that her vivid memories of childhood food were having “fried chicken and shaved ice.”
“We’d get off the MRT – like the tube – and then go to the night markets early to get some snacks, things like hot chicken which we’d share between four or five of us because we’d all be going home afterwards to eat more!”
She also shares stories of eating intestine and gooey vermicelli noodles with chili sauce, or “very Taiwanese sandwiches” for breakfast.Tags: Bao, food and drink, London, UK