Some friends and I took a trip to check out the new restaurant in Chinatown called Bao Bei. Based on some internet research, Bao Bei (meaning precious) is the creation of Tannis Ling from Chambar, with Paul Grunberg (previous GM of Chambar, and Jean George's Market) running the floor.
Parking in Chinatown was easy but I am a little choked that I now have to pay meter parking till 10:00pm. We got in late on Saturday night (which I found out was Bao Bei's only second night open) and had just a short wait at the tall tables before our table was ready. The restaurant looked fantastic, a long space with beautiful lighting, walnut tables, comfortable seating and some vintage cabinets.
I ordered what was called "the best damn gingerale" ($8) which was stiff and tasty, and an order of toasted dried squid with garlic mayo ($4) and sichuan cucumbers ($4). The drink was great and the squid was fantastic, an incredible texture and a wicked flavour. A pleasant surprise.
About 10 minutes later we were seated at our table and my friends went to work and ordered a bunch of items off the menu.
Steam Prawn and chive dumpling - $7.50
Won Tons in spicy, black bean broth - $6.00
King Pea Tips - $6
Watercress - $6
Omelette with salted turnip and butter - $4.00
Mantou - steamed buns with braised shortrib, hoisin, scallions, pickled cucumber and roasted peanuts - $9.
Ellie's Belly - slow braised pork - $8
Shao Bing - Sesame flatbread with braised pork butt, Asian pear, pickled onion and mustard greens - $7
The whole meal was fantastic. I was kinda worried when I didn't seen an old Chinese person in the kitchen but you could tell every dish was well thought out because every ingredient really complemented each other. It was one of those sittings where people were pointing at the food showing their amazement. The highlight for me was the mantou which completely blew my mind away but my friends loved the Ellie's Belly (according to our server was a creation of Eleanor Chow from Chambar and Dirty Apron) and the spicy won tons.
Price wise, this place is obviously more than Congee Noodle House but the atmosphere is beautiful and is perfect for hanging out, sipping on a drink and eating good food. Call it the Guu of Chinese food with easier parking. We walked out paying 45 bucks each which covered myshare of the food, 3 drinks and tip not bad at all!!!
I definitely recommend paying Bao Bei a visit.
Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie
163 Keefer St