Our man about town, one of impeccable taste, suggested I try this establishment, even though it might involve buns. He knows I harbour an antipathy to anything that might embrace a burger; beef of otherwise. ‘But no,’ he claimed, these are ‘small lightly-steamed, silky-smooth objects, hardly bun-like’.
His directions are perfect and we park opposite the establishment – just off Makarios Avenue – and enter the tiny reception area, so small, I query if I am in the correct place. ‘Are you a restaurant?’ I ask. Marios Malekkos, the owner and chef, assures me it is. He leads us to an area that would have trouble claiming to be a cupboard where there is a table for two and one for four; outside there is space for six.
We rather like the black high-chairs and tables that are set with chopsticks and cutlery wrapped in neat black napkins. We are the only customers but judging by the forest of delivery bikes there is a healthy take-away trade.
So what is Bao-Pau? It is a steamed bun, rather on the small side, made on the premises by Marios from a mixture of wheat and rice flour, which gives it the light texture that will not challenge those of a delicate dental arrangement.
If it wasn’t for the seven Bao-Pau dishes this would be another ubiquitous sushi and sashimi bar, the likes of which can now be purchased in our major bakeries. However, there is something endearing about this little place. For instance, the owner insisted we try the cheapest wine on his menu, a Greek wine I’d never heard of and it was just perfect for the evening.
The diner can have his Bao-Pau with seared tuna and avocado; crispy salmon and fresh herbs; pork belly; steak burger with chef’s special sauce; pepper sauce and tempura prawns; chicken, duck and one for the ever present vegans.
I ordered the crispy roasted duck breast served with a small dish of hot sauce and the companion obliged by ordering the pepper tempura prawns, ensuring they were of a decent size and not those nasty little maggoty variety that appear so often on the high street menu. ‘No sir’ these are queen size, shelled and embraced by the tempura. Quite delicious.
The buns were a revelation: little bigger than an average mushroom, hot, very soft and wrapped in a napkin. I generally have an aversion to salads, but the baby spinach with truffle oil, avocado, miso, grated sweet potato and parmesan was excellent. To ensure that the reader enjoys the broad range of Peruvian and Hawaiian varieties of the familiar oriental dishes, we had a plate of the prawn popcorn roll and dynamite maki, just so I could enjoy the salmon eggs.
I do hope Marios succeeds because he certainly deserves to. I can’t recall the last time the owner/chef acted as waiter and directed a flotilla of delivery boys to all points of the city and kept a smile on his face and an equitable manner.
SPECIALTY Oriental cuisine.
WHERE Bao-Pau, Agapinoros 6, Nicosia
CONTACT 22-443300, 99-866186
PRICE Very reasonable