Boa Bao - 5.3

May 1, 2019 - 1 min read

I first went to Boa Bao when I was on vacation in Porto, Portugal. We were looking for somewhere for dinner and happened to stumble upon this futuristic-looking pan-Asian tapas place. The menu, made up of small plates, baos (steamed buns), and larger things like curries and rices, seemed interesting so we went in. We absolutely loved the food and the cocktails (each cocktail featured ingredients from a different country, so the cocktail menu was featured as a “passport”), and the whole vibe was really cool. Imagine how excited I was to hear a couple months later that they were opening one in Barcelona!!!

Well friends, they do say that sometimes, things are not meant to last, and I’m sad to say that my love affair with Boa Bao was very much a one-time thing.

The Boa Bao in Barcelona is near Universitat, and it’s a big, well-decorated place (multiple floors, terrace, etc). Boa Bao IS a chain in Portugal and Spain, and although the menu was similar to what we had in Porto, there were some differences.

One of the reasons that people go to Boa Bao is because of their cocktails, but it was a Wednesday night so we decided to skip out on them. I did get an interesting mocktail (with things like dragonfruit and pandan juice in it) and it was mostly fine, but ended up being too sweet to finish.

We got 4 small plates and some baos to share. First up was some fried calamari, that was supposed to be salt and schezuan flavored but just ended up tasting mildly saltier than normal calamari. Overall, this was fine, but the portion was exceptionally small (so small I was considering asking our waiter what the deal was!!).

Next up we had the dim sum assortment. It came in a steamer, and had 8 pieces. These were also fine, but honestly didn’t taste super authentic. We also ordered some spring rolls that were so forgettable that I don’t even remember what they even had inside (apparently it was Peking duck). Not worth your time.

My favorite part of Boa Bao by far was the seared scallops appetizer. I have to say, this plate is stunning! For 10 euros, you get 4 scallops still in their shells, covered in a “seafood sauce Nam Jim”. I don’t know what was in that sauce but I swear I could drink it, it was so good. The scallops were cooked perfectly, ever-so-slightly charred on one side, and they were really juicy. They were a bit small, but I can’t even complain about the small portion because well, they’re scallops and they’re like the price of edible gold.

Our orders of baos (2 pieces each) came last, and unfortunately, these were also disappointing. We got a dragon bao that had sweet and sour shrimp inside, and I’m not kidding when I say one of these literally had 3 pieces of shrimp inside. Seriously? For 5 euros each bao I expect at least a reasonable amount of meat inside. I did not pay that money to eat an empty steamed bun. The other bao was pork belly and tasted pretty much just like a bao in any other restaurant Barcelona, so nothing spectacular.

At this point we had more misses than hits in Boa Bao Barcelona, and decided to call it a day before we were let down again by dessert. We realized our experience at Boa Bao Porto was a one-off (maybe we had already tried all the star dishes? Maybe vacation goggles? Who knows).

Honestly, for the price they charge and the quantities that you get, it’s just not worth your time. Probably the coolest thing about this restaurant is the fact that they serve soy sauce in pipettes.

address: plaça del dr. letamendi, 1

price: €€ (25-30€ per person)


good for: a drink, really small plates, and leaving hungry