Bao Bei, Vancouver, BC

I know the sign says "dumplings" but it is sooo much more!  We were a little disappointed with the street food offerings at the night market in Vancouver's Chinatown and popped into Bao Bei for drinks and a nibble.  Luckily we beat the rush--got seated immediately in the bar area, prime people watching.

Loved the shabby chic interior.  Service was not shabby.  My favorite waiters are attentive without fawning.  Chopsticks were not shabby--they reminded me of the ones we had at home that my parents had brought back from Taiwan....no wooden snap-apart chopsticks that invariably leave me with one that looks like a giant toothpick.

Gorgeous bar area and cocktail menu. 

The cocktails were unique without being overwrought.  Wish I had thought to take notes on them--we took our time deciding on the perfect beverage.  Since I can't remember the ingredients a picture is worth a thousand words right?

The menuoffers a good selection of small plates that are perfect for sharing.  I wished we had skipped the street food entirely and had room for a bigger meal at Bao Bei.  We settled on the Crispy Pork Belly and were happy the server recommended some steamed rice to soak up the sauce.  The pickled red onion, the edamame, the sauce perfumed with star anise--great flavor combinations, traditional but fresher and brighter.  I gazed longingly at the steamed buns at a neighboring table, filled with braised shortrib, cursing the subpar char siu bao I had already eaten. 

We promised Sophie Chinese doughnuts, and they delivered with these freshly made youtiao accompanied by a caramel dipping sauce and infused soymilk.  She reluctantly allowed us to have a small bite, but you can tell by the care they take with the presentation that these doughnuts are something special.

Bao Bei is a perfect jewel tucked away in Vancouver's Chinatown.  We loved everything about Vancouver, but I would go back just to eat at Bao Bei. Don't miss it!  They do not take reservations but I could happily wait at their bar all night.

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie on Urbanspoon