Big Fan Bao, the new addition to the increasingly eclectic food offering of Aungier Street is a mixed Asian food restaurant with dishes inspired from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. From the moment you walk into the Big Fan it is evident that the owners have a creative background. The décor of the restaurant, although being brand new, is of a 1970’s Hong Kong style.
Owner Robert Hayes has a background in restaurant interior design and before that in curating art galleries. In fact, talking to Robert as he served and mingled with customers, he told us of his art gallery background and said creating and running a restaurant is very similar, “You curate a space for people to have a good experience and your chefs are the artists”. We thought this was a brilliant way to illustrate a dining experience.
The large menu can be a little intimidating at first glance, but fear not, the friendly, knowledgeable staff are excellent at guiding you through how to order. Our server explained that it was similar to tapas. Giving advice on portion sizes and explaining some of the dishes. The menu includes bao buns, Asian street food and dumplings all with Big Fan’s own creative twist.
The first dishes we tried were two of Big Fan’s Boss Bao. We had the Wu Ya Bao (€7.00) and the BigFan Bao (€7.00). The Wu Ya’s 18hr slow braised Irish beef was tender and full of flavour, complimented by the pickled red cabbage, crispy onions, and peanut crumble. At its centre, the Big Fan bao has a beautiful, caramelised piece of pork, dong po style.
Next to arrive to our table were the 13 Spice Crayfish (€8.50) dumplings from the Jiaozi section of the menu. The fresh green chilli gave the crayfish a fiery kick. A highlight for us was the incredibly filling Wagyu Cheeseburger Jiaozi (€12.00). A modern take on a traditional dumpling, the crispy dish included wagyu patty, gherkin, cheese, onion and a tangy burger sauce.
This was followed by Sweet & Sourdough Prawn Toast (€8.50). We loved seeing the inclusion of local suppliers throughout the menu including the Bretzel Bakery sourdough used as a bed for a generous coating of prawns topped with toasted sesame seeds. The Pig Bones (€10.50) in black garlic sweet sticky soy were delicious but their short size bone made them challenging to eat.
Our favourite street food dish had to be the deep-fried Duck Wings (€7.00). Tossed in Big Fan seasoning, they were that perfect balance for a wing of being juicy yet crisp.
We tried two crispy chicken dishes (€6.50) accompanied with a side bowl of the house black and white rice (€3.50). She’s Spicy and She’s Sweet are both Taiwanese style chicken. One has Big Fan’s own Chili sauce one has a sweet honey soy garlic butter glaze.
For dessert, owner Robert recommended the Deep Fried Mantou (€4.50), a donut type dessert that was crispy on the outside, sweet and fluffy inside. When dipped in the accompanying sauce, the initial thoughts before dessert of we couldn’t eat another bite drifted away!
We were super impressed by quality of the cocktails, the menu was limited but includes popular classics like the Strawberry Daiquiri and the Porn Star Martini (both €10.00 each).
Overall, we had a great dining experience at Big Fan. We loved that we got to try so many different flavours and textures in one meal. Our total bill for all the food and cocktails came to €112.00 for the two of us which we felt was great value for all we had.
Foodies who are always looking for the cool new place to try will love this experience as will those looking for something completely different to the norm. The entire space is contemporary and slick, yet fun, with opulent gold toilets and vibrant colour changing floor LEDs. Big Fan is perfect for a lively night out, the atmosphere and even the music is very different to other restaurants in the city, it’s certainly not a place to go for a quiet chat! We left Big Fan full and totally satisfied, but also on a high, like we just left a great gig and thinking about the next time we will go again.
WRITTEN BY ABIGAIL FOX CARROLL & CLYDE CARROLL