Bao Bei is a Chinese-style izakaya with Shanghainese and Taiwanese influences.
Bao Bei is a quaint and unique restaurant that spins its menu off of Chinese influence. We really liked this place for a casual night out. It can get busy at times, so be prepared to wait for a private table on weekends.
We ordered the "Kickass" Fried Rice, and true to it's name, it really was pretty good. The rice was a good consistency (each grain unbroken and nicely coated) with lots of toppings mixed in. Unfortunately, the duck dumplings were not as tasty as they were overpowered by the chilli sauce, which didn't work well with such delicate flavors of the dumplings. The bean curd and truffle vinegrette snack was also a little disappointing in the same way of the dumplings - just that the heavy bean curd flavor didn't work well with the sour taste of the sauce. The drinks (non alcoholic) were really refreshing, though. Particularly, I really liked the Um Cha which was unique and lovely. Great for those who don't like their drinks to be too sweet.
The verdict: Will revisit because I like the concept, when the food was a hit it was really good, and am curious to try other dishes on their menu.
We were going to a movie later and wanted dinner first. This restaurant was recommended to us as it is only about a 10 minute walk from Tinseltown theatres. It opens at 5:30 and there was a line up outside to get in -- waiting for the restaurant to open! It was packed as soon as the doors opened.
We started with cocktails -- they all have a Chinese twist to them which makes them interesting. They come in juice glasses which fits the trendy, bistro atmosphere.
Something must have happened to our food order, lost somewhere in the kitchen. At the 45 minute mark, diners on either side who arrived after us had received their food, but none for us. Our waitress to her credit spoke to her manager who went into the kitchen and knocked heads together or something, because soon food was arriving.
It was all very good. We shared the lamb stew, prawn dumplings, pea shoots and the fried rice. All were excellent.
We would definately return. I put the wait for food down to growing pains of a new restaurant dealing with a packed house. Staff is attentive and friendly.
Had dinner here with three friends the other night. I was pleasantly suprised about how good everything was since a foodie friend had told me to skip this place a few months back. So I guess my expectations were low but it felt good as soon as I walked in. The servers were attentative and friendly, always checking up on us and making suggestions. We had five or 6 dishes including the fried rice, squid, pork stuffed buns, chinese greens and they were all tasty, good sized and beautifully presented. The beverages and dessert was also good. Decor is cool retro Chinatown (all authentic I'm sure). Kind of like a Chinese version of an izakaya. Easy street parking outside. The place filled up by 6pm. Total bill for four of us including about two drinks each and not incl tip was around $140. We'll be back.
Have been a few times to this place and love it. The room and decor is fabulous. Service is solid. Most importantly, the food is outstanding. Love the braised bamboo shoots and pork belly. Duck congee was surprisingly good. Can be a bit expensive overall, but is worth it for something different. It's great that more places like this are opening up in the area.
Lovely room with decent service and great bartenders. A bit confusing wen first arriving with no host or hostess to acknowledge you. Buy so get there early or cozy up to the bar. Small wine list, nice selection of bottled beer, but small wine list. Food very tasty and nicely presented but some what delayed in timing and delivery. Try the fish noodle bowl and nelly's belly prok.
The secret to this restaurant is to keep it a secret, because with limited seating it is sometimes tough to get a table without showing up before the doors open... but... that is not a complaint. I absolutely love this restaurant, if I still lived in the city I would definitely be a regular. I recommend it for dates and small dinner parties, try hitting up the Keefer Bar a few doors down later in the night for drinks. Have recommended this place to all my friends an get consistently great reviews from them.
Thank you Bao Bei for making Chinatown cool again!
This is my 2nd review on urban spoon, if you saw what I wrote about Sandbar... well, Sandbar is actually on top of their game compared to this place.
I've been wanting to come here for a few months now. I am fortunate to dine out everyday, and enjoy trying to new places. But this place is not that great. With the pork jowl and pork belly being sold out, there menu is kind of limited. We had the eggplant, wontons (soup tastes like water, wontons are so bland, its better going to even Hon's for it), beef tartare, flatbread and taiwanese sausages. There's nothing "memorable" about the food here. The only good thing I would say is the taiwanese sausages aren't greasy or oily. The service here is horrible. We were seated and ordered, after that, no one said one word to us. We were given our dishes, not one word to us, (Here are your eggplants... here are your sausages... what is with just giving us food?). At the end, we asked the for bill and this guy seemed so annoyed like we owed him something? This was on a Wednesday night around 10pm and they were very slow! I can always accept this behaviour if it's busy and employees are annoyed or literally busy, but on a slow and dead night, it's always unacceptable. So after getting the bill, again, not one word to us. The only things we heard that evening was "do you want anything to drink?" and "do you need change?" My boyfriend and I decided to give a 20% tip, just to see if maybe employees would be nicer. So we asked for 1$ back, he confirmed we wanted 1$ back in a really rude way, when he gave us 1$ back, he threw it on the table and not one word. No goodnight, no bye, are you serious? What does this place teach me? Next time I'll say, "Sorry, yes, I decided I do want my change back." Even with a 20% tip you cannot get service from anyone here.
I'm not here to complain about the food, I won't even bother. But there is something clearly wrong with their service. I guess it's a place to drink, but not eat or get service.
I grew up on Cantonese cuisine, and am pretty delighted to have found a place with an ethical meat/local food policy that serves delicious Chinese-style dishes. Not quite fusion, as the plates are pretty true to their original intent -- but definitely updated and pan-regional, with an emphasis on northern cuisine. These are homestyle dishes made delicate and refined.
Six of us shared a few dishes, and then ordered more of the same. Mantou and shao bing were highlights -- good texture, mildly sweet, well-braised meats. Eggplant was also tasty, and the daikon cake was a delicious take on the good old dim sum favourite. Shrimp and chive dumplings were a hit at the table, though not my personal favourite.
When the food is this great, I'm generally not so picky about the decor -- but it's a beautiful room! Chinoiserie decor and that awesome giant vintage photo of the owner's dad as a teenager in a band in the 1960s? Cosy and pretty. We got the best seat in the house -- at the back in the raised booth, and our party of 6 somehow managed to skip the line entirely.
The downside? It's definitely pricey for the amount that you get -- that goes for food, and doubly so for the mixed drinks -- but a fair price for the quality.
We heard so many good things about Bao Bei that we finally (and excitedly) got to try it tonight.
We ordered 5 items: Crispy Diakon Cake, Mantou, Shao Bing, Duck & Mushroom Wontons in Mushroom broth and Fried Rice of the Day. The Mantou (3 little steamed buns with tender tasty braised short ribs) was delicious and was easily the favourite of the evening. The Duck & Mushroom Wontons was a close second. The Crispy Daikon Cake was a deep fried version of the daikon cake, which is normally steamed then lightly pan fried. Unfortunately it was too salty. The Shao Bing was a much larger serving than expected and although it was good, I couldn't really tell if if was pork or chicken. The Fried Rice of the Day (ground beef, pineapple and oong choi) was yummy but I'm biased since I love fried rice. Although I wasn't wowed, the food is good and ingredients tasted fresh. The sometimes creative combination of traditional and not so traditional ingredients or cooking methods yielded chinese food with a twist geared for non-asians. The cocktails were impressive with creative and interesting flavours and definitely worth going back for more.
Spectacular. If only more restaurants could follow the example set by Bao Bei! Although it is casual dining, the service was professional but warm, prompt and very attentive. There was no pretension. Our water glasses were kept filled and our drinks and food arrived quickly (keeping in mind that we were dining well before the evening rush) and the server was friendly and attentive, he knew the menu well and gave us an informative overview of the menu and the daily special.
Although not cheap, the value is good considering the excellent service, good food and, in my view, decent sized portions for sharing.
Great ambiance and vibe. The decor is funky and hip with a mix of old and new, industrial and classic. Small tables encourage intimate but fun dining experience. We were glad to arrive early and beat the rush because the restaurant filled up very quickly and a queue formed by the time we were ready to leave. A slight downside to the evening...too many tourists given the location (Chinatown) and being summer. I shall wait until fall before returning!
Always be apprehensive about walking into a chinese restaurant, but no one who works there is chinese. Congee was way too salty and overpriced. The braised pork was way too tough. I mean, go to a real Shanghainese restaurant, and you'll find it's suppose to be super tender. Oh and get this. They serve fish soup here. You never see fish soup at Cantonese restaurants. It's just too low brow when you can have shark fin, abalone, ginseng, or buddhist soup. Oh well, the cocktails were quite tastey at least. I tried the one with beet juice, and the chinese margarita. The yuppy white professionals at the next table really enjoyed their food. I mean, the one woman was having orgasms at the table.
We tried to get into this restaurant early on, shortly after it opened in late January. The wait was too long, so we took a rain-check. This past Friday we were there early enough to get a table. The menu was not overly extensive, but had something for everyone. From small appies and share plates, to more filling dishes. We settled on the chili calamari, the mantou (steamed buns with braised beef), Ellie's belly (melt-in-your-mouth pork belly) and a bbq pork spicy noodle soup. Every dish was flavorful, and the service was very attentive and helpful. An observation, however: plates meant for sharing should allow for sharing. The mantou, and pork bellies came in threes. Not easy to cut with only chopsticks or a soup spoon... Still, Bao Bei is definitely worth a visit. We'll be back.
This place is by no means traditional. But it is surrounded by places offering more traditional Chinese food for much less. But why? Because the other places use cheap ingredients. I personally stay away from factory raised meats, and try my best to eat meat from farms that don't use hormones or anti-biotics.
So, when Bao Bei opened, I was amazed, I could get my dumplings and pork buns and spicy soups with meat I can eat! The pork buns were not as tasty as the traditional, but still good, along with most of the other dishes. I did however find their spicy soup(with pork) to be really good, strong broth, good balance of vegetables/meat. Also, it's not overly greasy like a lot of Chinese food in Chinatown.
Service was actually one of the best I've experienced in Vancouver. They weren't annoying, they didn't want to be my buddy, they weren't rude or stuck-up, and they were on the ball.
If you are conscious about the food you eat, this is a great Chinese restaurant.