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Jan 20, 2010 09:37 AM

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie - Vancouver

We went to Bao Bei last night. All in all, very impressed with everything food wise. The Mantou (pork, scallion, hoisin wrapped in pillowy soft blankets of deliciousness), Ellie's Belly (Pork Belly), and the Bao Shing (Sesame wrapped pork belly with other goodies) were the standouts. I didn't take any mental notes on the dishes specifically, so I'm sure this isn't super accurate, but we enjoyed everything and it was definitely more "Chinese food" instead of "Fusion" (a la Wild Rice). Obviously some of the cooking techniques, etc are french influenced (it is a Chinese Brasserie) and the ingredients are probably of higher quality than most Chinese restaurants but the overall feeling and taste is Chinese. Which is great.

The room is beautiful. It looks like a French influenced house in Shanghai circa 1950 (at least in my mind) and the prices are very reasonable for what you're getting. Besides the mussels ($17.5) and the soups (14-$15), nothing is over $12. For two people last night, we had three drinks (one beer ($7), two cocktails ($8/each), and, I believe, 6 dishes, and our bill was $70 without tip and we were stuffed and definitely didn't need the last dish.

A couple of mishaps which I'm chalking up to "less than one week old".. especially the timing on the food, which took a long time and was spaced poorly.. but, they're new and they were slammed.

Also, they don't take reservations and we had to wait a good 15 - 20 minutes for a spot at the bar late on a tuesday night. So, be prepared.

I will be back.

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  1. Thanks for the report. Can't wait to hit this place. This block of Keefer should get interesting with The Keefer bar too.

    1. Looking forward to trying it out. I'm glad they didn't fusionize the food - something we have way too much of here already. Bao Bei sounds like a place whose time has come.

      1. I dropped in just after opening tonight . I'm doing a pre-Olympic walk around the city checking out places that I figure will be crazy busy in the next couple of weeks.
        What a great spot! The room is beautifully put together with a nice bar and small lounge area up front and a really pretty dining area in the back (long and narrow). Half way through the evening it was nicely full and has been from the beginning according to the staff.

        I started with the Kai Yuen Sour made with Forty Creek Rye and Chinese Plum Syrup - it was excellent! I usually drink Bourbon Sours and this could make me forget them real fast.

        To munch on I ordered the Crispy Fishies with roasted peanuts and chilies and the Warm Eggplant with soy garlic and ginger. The Crispy Fishies are tiny dried anchovies or some similar fish and the whole thing is prickly, crunchy and salty although not particularly spicy unless you munch on the fresh bird chili they garnish it with.
        The eggplant arrived in a bamboo steamer and was delicious, literally melt in the mouth.

        With the Fishies I switched to a bottle of Yanjing Lager to wash down the salty fish. Never had this one before but it was just right with the apps.

        From the 'Petits Plats Chinois" I chose the Shao Bing which is labeled as a crunchy sesame flatbread with braised pork butt, asian pear and mustard greens. Added to this; a splash of asian style mayo. This is now one of the best pork sandwiches in town, no kidding!

        I had to try their Chino Margarita which is made with tangerine peel infused tequila, ginger juice and a chili salt/tangerine powder rim. Again, although I'm not usually keen on sexed up versions of classic cocktails this was really, really tasty.

        I finished off with Pork Potstickers and an order of stirfried King Pea Tips.

        It may seem over the top but this is one of the nicest meals I've had in a while. From the front of house to the kitchen these guys have it together, very polished and well presented.
        I hate to make the analogy but this is very much like the Chinese/Vietnamese version of a Vij's, updated classics (although I leave the judgement as to how authentic these dishes are to guys like Fmed). Well worth the trek to darkest Chinatown.

        The Keefer Bar, although slated to open tonight is now on for tomorrow, just a couple of doors down.

        5 Replies
        1. re: eatrustic

          Great report eatrustic.

          I haven't been - but others I know who have great palates for Chinese food tell me that the dishes are indeed authentic in flavours and execution. They had also commented how they didn't frou-frou the plating opting for a more rustic presentation.

          Looking forward to it....maybe after the Oh-oh-lympics.

          1. re: fmed

            Popped in for a quickie late last night - right after I posted. Very cool room, very nice food (only had the two items people were talking about (the shao bing and the belly). Sorry - no pics (I didn't have my camera and the iPhone pics are completely unusable). More later.

          2. re: eatrustic

            I heard that the owner, a long time Vancouver bartender/ beverage manager, went back to China to bring back authentic recipes and techniques from her restaurant industry family and was not fusioning the food. The only modern element is supposed to be the cocktails. I can hardly wait to try it out!

              1. re: waylman

                Went a few days ago on our trip out there and it was one of the best meals of the trip. Had the tofu, squid, shrimp potstickers, watercress and it was all great. Highly recommended.