Bao Bei

Friday, February 5, 2010
Last night I went to Bao Bei with my family for my Dad's birthday. After the disappointments that were ReFuel* (my birthday) and Campagnolo* (Mom's birthday), I was beginning to be a bit reluctant about the Vancouver food scene. Maybe it's a good thing that I had low expectations so that they were easy to exceed, or maybe the food was THAT good at Bao Bei. I think I'm gonna go with the latter.

The restaurant is gorgeous. Not in an impressive way like Goldfish or Society, but in more of a minimalistic way. The decor definitely fits the neighbourhood - it would be so awkward if they had gone for opulence. I didn't get any pictures of the inside, but I was in love with the bar - felt like a saloon. The banquet seating was pretty uncomfortable, but it was soon forgotten about.

Cutest little stamp on the menu

Bao Bei is basically Chinese tapas; small and medium sized plates that are best for sharing. This ended up being detrimental because I was starving, which leads to having to order more and more food, thus raising your total cost. But I digress.

Crispy fishies with peanuts & chili - $4

As much as I love food, I just can't take seafood. No matter how hard I try. I do, however, enjoy oysters, go figure. I do eat salmon occasionally and arctic char when available, but definitely no shellfish. My brother wanted to order the crispy fishies and I didn't eat them. Him and my Dad enjoyed them, said they had a bit of a bite from the chilis. They pair well well with beer (according to our server), likening them to peanuts/bar nuts.

Crispy Daikon Cake - $4

My personal favourite. Loved the crispy texture and the flavour. We had to order 2 plates.

King Pea Tips - $6

Probably my least favourite dish (that I ate - haha). It reminded me of gai lan, which I can have any day.

Squid: stirfried with pork belly & baby bok choi - $12

I didn't eat this. I've tried squid on a number of occasions, but I can never get over the rubbery texture. My family all gave it rave reviews, my Mom said that it wasn't too rubbery and almost melted in your mouth.
Pork Potstickers - $6

I love potstickers. I especially love potstickers from Hon's. These potstickers were good, plump and juicy, and had a definite anise taste. But, truth be told, I still prefer Hon's. Is that sacrilege?

Steamed Prawn & Chive Dumplings - $7.50

They have prawn therefore I didn't eat them. But they look good.....

Mantou - $9

Another favourite. While I did feel that I was eating pita bread, I enjoyed the flavour of the short ribs and hoisin. The menu says that there's supposed to be peanuts, but I don't remember tasting any.

Ellie's Belly - $9

My brother, the chef, l-o-v-e-s pork belly. He eats it every chance he gets because my mom doesn't make it (or eat it, for that matter).

Pork Noodle Soup - $14

Spicy broth...well, not spicy for me, but my spicy tolerance is significantly above average, bordering on insane. The BBQ pork was lean (just the way I like it) and the noodles...were, well, just that. I felt that the soup was just slightly too oily (due to the chili oil), but aide from that, a tasty dish.

Shao Bing - $8

Definitely in the least favourite category. I really liked the sesame flat bread, but I'm kind of confused on it's Asian-ness. There was some good flavour, but like my brother said, "It needs more pickled onion and greens." The chef said.

Bao Bei has a short dessert menu. What I like about it is that it's not your typical Vancouver dessert menu, meaning that there's no creme brulee, or chocolate explosion cake.

Mango Pudding - $6

The pudding was a basic tapioca with chunks of mango. It was covered by a weird, sweet bread crust. The crust was tasty and mixed with the flavour of the pudding. My brother and I really liked it, my parents, not so much. My mom likened the crust to the "white square bread from T&T" - you know you know the one.

Fried Bananas - $6

I love friend bananas. I especially love them because you can't get them at many places, so it's always an excitement when they're on the menu. These were battered in coconut, and accompanied by coconut and lime ice cream. The ice cream was amazing, as were the bananas.

I really enjoyed the pace of the restaurant. Dishes were generally served one by one (since we were sharing), allowing us to enjoy the flavours of each dish. The food was also piping hot (I really, really hate it when food comes out warm, like it's been sitting on the line for awhile. This is especially the case with SOUP), which was a huge deal for me.

I didn't enjoy that we had to keep ordering food as the meal progressed. However, because of the structure of the menu, it's not a huge deal. Meaning, that you don't have to wait for a long period of time if you add something on to your tab.

Overall, it's definitely a place I'd go back to. I'm not sure that I would go there relying on dinner, but for drinks and a couple plates before going somewhere else, or after work, or whatever, it's great.

I would definitely give it a 4/5

Bao Bei is located at 163 Keefer Street

*I give these places a 3/5 - meaning that I didn't hate it there, but I'm not rushing back. I would only return if someone else wanted to go there or for an event.


The Starving Stylist said...

Thanks for that great review Erin! I'm rarely in Chinatown so it was great to get a little insight of the restaurants down there! xo

Lilee▲ said...

aww yummy foooooooooood!

MizzJ said...

I had heard lots of raves about this "famous" restaurant so thanks for the detailed review! The food looks good and the prices aren't bad. Too bad you don't like pea tips, I would've eaten a whole plate for myself if I'd been there lol.

Jessica Mai : said...

*drools on keyboard*

mmm. Although Im a Vancouverite foodie, Ive never heard of this restaurant.

Thanks for the great review! I'm definitely gonna give it a try the next time Im in Chinatown.

Love your blog. Linking & will visit again!
Jess Mai

Andrew said...

Thanks for the Bao Bei review, Nicole and I are trying to find time to try it out. Heard great buzz, and it looks tasty! The influx of lower-cost, quality food in Van is good to see - Diamond, Bao Bei, etc.

Disappointed in Campagnono, eh? Darn, I hope it was just a one-off, I'm looking forward to it too!