By Joanna Lee, Modern Mix Vancouver writer
Bao Bei, meaning “precious,” is a modern Chinese brasserie in Chinatown, that has received much praise since its opening in February 2010. EnRoute Magazine and Where Magazine touted it as one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants in 2010, as did Vancouver Magazine in 2011. Owned and operated by Tannis Ling, a former bartender at Chambar, Bao Bei is not only modern but also pays homage to Ling’s parents, reminiscent in the many dishes on the menu and black-and-white photos adorning the restaurant. Bao Bei is a step away from most Chinese restaurants, where large family-style plates are the norm. Instead, ordering more of its small plates is encouraged.
The kitchen is helmed by Joel Watanabe (Bin 942 and Araxi), who dishes out plates such as egg noodles both flat and square, shao bing and crispy pork belly, which is aged for three days before serving. There’s also traditional dishes including “flied lice”, steamed man tou with pork belly, and the youtiao (chinese donut). Bao Bei’s “petit plats chinois” are fun, interesting, and inventive.
Though one may find the restaurant easy to miss, watch for Bao Bei’s colourful neon signage outside. Bao Bei is incredibly busy with seating times ranging anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. Tip: go early, put your name down on the waiting list, and grab a drink or two at the Keefer Bar several doors down.