Spring has finally sprung in London, with the city basking at its balmiest best for this time of year. The seamless shift in the seasons has had me rediscover my zeal for long and lazy walks – and not just in the blossoming parks and squares, but increasingly around Soho too.
Whether catching up with a friend for coffee (and cakes), keeping up with the latest on-trend eats or ducking into an underground speakeasy, I’ve found myself continually drawn back to this quirky pocket of London, which is increasingly home to specialist cafes and eateries.
Here’s sharing a few spots for your list, perfect for a quick foodie fix the next time you’re passing by…
Custard buns at Bun House & Tea Room
Recently opened on the corner of Greek Street, this striking new Chinese café specialises in traditional Cantonese-style closed buns and pickles, with the bao options ranging from sticky barbecue pork belly to chicken and fish.
Whichever you choose, you’d be mad to miss the sweet-and-savoury custard bun for afters. It’s impossible to eat it without making a mess, as even the softest bite of the pillowy – almost cloud-like – skin reveals a lava-like gush of custard, silkily blended with duck egg, coconut milk and carrots. We’d polished it off in seconds and were instantly hankering for another!
With limited seating, this is a cafe mainly geared toward takeaways; but with word of a drinking den downstairs open until 3 a.m., it looks all set to become a late night haunt in the area too!
Bun House, 23-24 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4DZ, UK
Chips & Dips at Hip Chips
So Londoners’ growing fascination for dedicated single-issue eateries might have reached its peak with the opening of this hipster joint late last year.
Far from your average chips and dips though, the hand-crafted “heritage” crisps here are made from a colourful variety of potatoes grown in North England. While the sensational line-up of dips include the likes of baba ganoush, cheese fondue and katsu curry. There are options to appease your sweet tooth too – think s’mores and chocolate and salted caramel…
It’s a classic pairing which always serves me quite well for a quick bite on-the-go when passing by Old Compton Street.
HipChips, 49 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1D 6HL
Kati Rolls at Kati Roll Co
For something more substantive, I head to the Oxford Circus outpost of the cult NYC chain, Kati Roll Co. With its vintage vibes and retro Bollywood movie posters peeling off the bare-brick walls, Kati Roll Company reminds me a bit of the street side pit stops of India. It has a menu to match too, revolving around roadside-style rolls.
Choose between marinated meats, seasoned vegetables or tender chunks of paneer (cottage cheese) wrapped between hot wholewheat rotis or the more indulgent, perfectly browned, parathas. Washed down with a fresh mango lassi, it’s always spot-on!
Kati Roll Co, 24 Poland Street, London W1F 8QL
Matcha Sundae at Tsujiri
Other niche and globally-inspired eateries in Soho include a tiny café representing a 155 year-old premium tea brand from Kyoto, Japan.
The matcha-marvellous offerings here range from richly bittersweet lattes to soft-serves and sundaes loaded with all the traditional trimmings from toasted brown rice puffs and red bean paste, to chestnuts and shiratama (a type of mochi).
Full review, here.
Tsujiri, 47 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 7PD
Biskies and Dream Cakes at Cutter & Squidge
Then there’s this cheerful café on Brewer Street, which always lures me in with its enticing displays of dream cakes (decadently layered sponge cakes) and signature biskies – an exquisite mix of biscuit, cookie and cake, these pretty little hybrids sandwich all imaginable fillings from caramels to homemade jams!
If it’s the full works you’re after, it’s definitely worth plumping for their quirky take on an afternoon tea (presented in a stack of bamboo steamers), with a vegan alternative to be soon available too!
Cutter & Squidge, 20 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 0SJ
Hot Chocolate at SAID dal 1923
And finally, this cosy chocolate shop on Broadwick Street (an offshoot of the original in Rome), is where you’ll almost always find me hiding out during one of London’s cold or stormy spells.
The unapologetically decadent hot chocolate here is so richly thick that I have to sip it by the spoonful… then scrape off every last bit of melted chocolate sheathed around the cup!
SAID, 41 Broadwick St, Carnaby, London W1F 9QL
Of course this round-up only scratches the surface of the eclectic mix making up Soho’s thriving foodie scene… Which are your favourite go-to’s in the area? Do share your recommendations in the comments below!