STAFF MEAL | On Saturday Night Bourbon & Tostada Feasts At Chinatown’s “Bao Bei”

Staff Meal is a new column by Ken Tsui. The photo essays will detail the stories behind the family-style meals that some of Vancouver’s busiest restaurant crews get either before or after service. 

by Ken Tsui | After a busy service on a Saturday night at Chinatown’s award-winning Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, executive chef Joel Watanabe cranks out one final meal. Tonight, it’s his take on tostadas, and it’s for his staff. Think crispy tortillas topped with a healthy dose of cumin seasoned black beans, tomato sauce, melted cheese, guacamole, and shredded lettuce all dressed with lime and a pico de gallo salsa. Tostadas were one of the family classics in the Watanabe household when Joel was a kid. He and his brother were hooked, both invariably asking for the treat to be a part of every birthday meal. In the spirit of sibling rivalry, they even devoured the fully loaded tostadas competitively, with Joel holding the household record of fourteen eaten in one sitting.

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Chinatown

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Pender & Carrall, Chinatownjuly 2010 214The Keefer BarTannis Ling, owner of Bao Bei, on the night before opening nightKeep those f@ckers out, goddamit!Keefer alley between Columbia and Main, ChinatownTannis, Alex, and Sophie at Bao Bei after the awards

Chinatown, a commercial (and increasingly residential) neighbourhood within the Downtown Eastside, has been one of Vancouver’s most vibrant areas since the City’s beginnings. It got its start as a ghetto on the edge of the Granville Townsite in the late 1880′s, when scores of Chinese immigrants arrived to work BC’s mines and build its railroads. The institutional racism of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923 and the anti-animated neon signage laws of 1974 did little to curb its vibrancy, and today it is home to an eclectic mix of traditional and trendy eateries, markets (both day and night), gardens, temples, and a wide assortment of businesses ranging from tea shops and apothecaries to art galleries and vintage stores. Its borders are squared roughly by Abbott/Taylor (west), Gore (east), Pender (north), and Keefer/East Georgia (south). The 200 block of Union St. (between Main and Gore) is technically part of Chinatown, but we count the section east of its alleyway as a part of Strathcona.

the-colour-palette

chinatownpalette

Blue/Orange facades of Ho Sun Hing Printers & Fresh Egg Mart on East Georgia; the leafiness of Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Gardens; omnipresent decorative red and gold; freshly horked old man loogie; marinated eggplant with soy, garlic, and ginger at Bao Bei; stinky summer fish gut puddle; dead alleyway pigeon tri-colour; dried tokay gecko on a stick.

here-you-will-find

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DEAD LIZARDS FOR YOUR PENIS*
$8.99 (AND CHEAPER) HAIRCUTS
EXCELLENT PARADES WITH BAGPIPES & DRAGONS
THE RENNIE COLLECTION AT WING SANG
A LITTLE QUIET SOLITUDE AT DR. SUN-YAT SEN GARDEN
OUT OF THE ORDINARY ANTIQUES
THE OCCASIONAL RAT
PRESENTS FOR YOUR MOM
GAMES OF POOL AT THE LONDON PUB
THE VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE KEEFER PARKADE
AN UNSUSTAINABLE AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES
BLIM WORKSHOPS
SWEET VINTAGE AT DUCHESSE
THE NICE GUYS AT THE SHOP
THE PLAZA SKATEPARK
SUPPLIES FOR LIQUOR LOVERS
A WHOLE LOTTA PIGEONS
LEATHER BAGS AT ERIN TEMPLETON
THE JIMI HENDRIX SHRINE
* the dried lizards (tokay geckos) are a traditional Chinese medicine for impotence, tuberculosis, and asthma.

what-to-eat-and-drink

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MARINATED EGGPLANT (OR PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING) AT BAO BEI
APOTHECARY COCKTAILS AT THE KEEFER BAR
LATE NIGHT FRIED RICE AT GAIN WAH
ICE CREAM SANDWICHES FROM SCENT OF A SANDWICH
BBQ DUCK AT MONEY FOODS
COFFEE & CINNAMON TOAST AT MATCHSTICK
APPLE PIE FROM THE PIE SHOPPE
CHICKEN WINGS & GARLIC PRAWNS AT PHNOM PENH
THE BURGER AT MAMIE TAYLOR’S
PORK BUNS AT NEW TOWN BAKERY
SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM FROM PRIME TIME CHICKEN
POTATO TORNADOES AT THE NIGHT MARKET
PORK THURINGER CURRYWURST AT BESTIE

cool-things-of-note

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- The oldest standing structure in Chinatown is the Wing Sang Building on Pender, built in 1889 by Chinatown pioneer Yip Sang.

- Market Alley, spanning from Main Street and Carrall between Hastings and Pender, was a turn-of-the-century hotspot for opium production, gambling, and after-hours debauchery.

- Dr. Sun Yet-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was the first of its kind to be constructed outside of China.

- Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in North America.

- A city ordinance was passed in 1937 that prohibited Chinese-owned restaurants from employing white women. In 1939, city council amended the law to permit white waitresses in Chinatown restaurants that served “English meals to English customers”.

things-we've-seen

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GOODS | Chinatown’s “Bao Bei” Gets Set To Dish Out Special Chinese New Year’s Menu

January 21, 2014 

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver's Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

The GOODS from Bao Bei

Vancouver, BC | Feeling lucky? If not, Bao Bei is here to stuff your face with tasty morsels that bring long life, strength, prosperity, happiness and, of course, good luck between Jan. 22nd and Feb. 1st. Maybe you don’t believe in that kinda thing but it certainly doesn’t hurt to treat your mouth to the delicious foods of good fortune and get your Chinese New Year started off on the right hoof (ha!).

The night is first come first serve, although the family table is available for 2 seatings each night for groups of 8 – 12. The Special Chinese New Year Menu costs $35 per person. The regular menu will also be available. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Chinatown’s “Bao Bei” On Hunt For A Full-Time Garde Manger

August 3, 2013 

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver's Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

The GOODS from Bao Bei

Vancouver, BC | Bao Bei is looking for an experienced garde manger to fill a full-time position in our kitchen. The successful candidate will be able to handle working high volume in a fast paced environment. Those interested are invited to email their resumes to info@bao-bei.ca or come down to the restaurant in person between 2pm and 4pm. Learn more about us after the jump… Read more

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Chinatown’s “Bao Bei” On The Lookout For F/T Garde Manger

Bai Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

The GOODS from Bao Bei

Vancouver, BC | Bao Bei is looking for an experienced garde manger to fill a full-time position in our kitchen. The successful candidate will be able to handle working high volume in a fast paced environment. Those interested are invited to email their resumes to info@bao-bei.ca or come down to the restaurant in person between 2pm and 4pm. Learn more about us after the jump… Read more

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Keefer’s Award-Winning Bao Bei Seeking F/T Garde Manger

Bai Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

The GOODS from Bao Bei

Vancouver, BC | We are looking for a full time garde manger to join our crew in the kitchen. Must be hard working, able to handle a fast paced, high volume environment and enjoy 90′s playlists. Please email resume to info@bao-bei.ca or apply in person with resume between 2pm – 4pm at 163 Keefer Street. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more

SEEN IN VANCOUVER #438: “Helen Dreams Of Dumplings” Film From Keefer’s “Bao Bei”

Our friend Mike Babiarz of Warren Lane Pictures recently finished Helen Dreams Of Dumplings, a short film made for Chinatown’s Bao Bei about their awesome dumpling maker, Li Ben (aka Helen):

Meet Helen; dumpling making extraordinaire at Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie. We love Helen for her sweet smiles, dedication, and her special way of folding perfect little dumplings one after another. Not to mention her killer staff meals that remind us of mom.

Now, in addition to being hungry, we are a little bit in love.

EVERYTHING SEEN IN VANCOUVER

Revitalized “Chinatown Night Market” Now Accepting Vendor Applications For Summer

March 14, 2013 

As Scout recently reported, Bao Bei owner Tannis Ling and pop-up organiser Ken Tsui have joined with the Vancouver Chinatown Merchant’s Association (VCMA) to reinvent the 18 year tradition we know as the Chinatown Night Market. They’re now calling for vendor applications!

This year, the Chinatown Night Market is mixing it up – old and new, imports and originals, mainstream and handmade – in an effort to celebrate our love of art, culture, summertime and the ever-changing Chinatown neighbourhood.

If what you do jives with this atmosphere, a vendor stall might be for you!

The New Night Market’s performances, workshops and attractions will draw a wide, culturally diverse audience with a full season seeing over 100,000 unique visitors. There’s something here for families, friends, young and old; for those from within the Chinatown community and beyond. Ideally, the assortment of vendors we assemble will collectively have something to appeal to one and all.

The right fit of wares–be it pins, preserves, perfumes or paper–can be unique or not, charming or simply utilitarian but should be “easy on the pocketbook”. In all practicality, keep in mind that the Night Market is a walkabout street fair, so smaller, “carry-able” items or those with innovative, transportable packaging are ideal.

The 2013 Chinatown Night Market is currently offering stall rentals on a monthly basis, half or full season. If you would like more information please email: contact [at] vancouverchinatownnightmarket.com

Learn all you need to here. Spread the word.

Chinatown Night Market To Be Reborn This Year With New Food, Programs, & Vendors

January 29, 2013 

Tannis Ling, owner of Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, and Ken Tsui, a well known pop-up organizer responsible for popular events like Black Lodge Diner, Eat Together and The Hawker Stand, have joined with the Vancouver Chinatown Merchant’s Association (VCMA) to reinvent the 18 year tradition we know as the Chinatown Night Market.

It’s no secret that the Night Market has struggled in recent years, but with the neighbourhood in the midst of an exciting renewal period and an influx of new businesses wanting to participate, the VCMA, Ling and Tsui see the summer of 2013 as the perfect opportunity to update it. They aim to harness Chinatown’s resurgent spirit while helping to preserve its cultural DNA. The goal is to create a dynamic cultural hub and social space that will appeal to all ages and all cultures.

In such an effort, collaboration is everything. Local design firm Glasfurd & Walker is working with Bao Bei to rebrand the Night Market, and the Street Food Vancouver Society is on board to help diversify and complement the range of food already offered by bringing in a selection of trucks to the market’s western border on Columbia Street. There will be an area for dining set up with picnic tables and chairs, and there’s a rumour going around of new restaurant patios opening for the occasion.

New programming will include outdoor Chinese movie screenings, ping-pong tournaments, cooking competitions, storytelling nights and mahjong lessons. Workshops available for kids could include kite making, calligraphy, circus arts, and more.

Of course, one of the integral aspects of revitalizing the night market is the incorporation of inspired and original vendors. To this end, Ling and Tsui are – starting today – looking for artisans, craftspeople, and food makers with excellent products and accessible price points.

They are making a call out to vendors for expressions of interest. To be clear, this is not a request for commitment. Just acquiring vendor interest will help them move forward and into the next stages of planning.

Booth rate rentals start at $42/night and comes with a 10′ x 10′ tent and 6′ table. Vendor rentals are available for a full season (32 nights), half season (16 nights) or a quarter season (8 nights).

If you are interested in becoming a vendor or a sponsor, please contact Tannis Ling or Ken Tsui at contact@vancouverchinatownnightmarket.com.

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Andrew Morrison is the editor-in-chief of Scout and BC’s Senior Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and TV shows on local food, culture and travel. He live and works in the vibrant Strathcona neighbourhood, where he also collects inexpensive things and enjoys birds, skateboards, whisky, shoes, many songs, and the smell of wood fires.

AWESOME THING WE ATE #876: Delicious “Tete de Lion” New At Chinatown’s Bao Bei

October 24, 2012 

“Tete de Lion” | Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie | 163 Keefer St. | $11.50 | www.bao-bei.ca

Mmm, who doesn’t love new menu items at Bao Bei? This one – dubbed the Tete de Lion – sees a hot chicken broth surrounding and soaking into a fist-sized pork meatball underneath a thick and buttery puff pastry cap. And thus, winter was defeated. Let’s hope it stays. #noms

MORE AWESOME THINGS WE ATE

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Chinatown’s “Bao Bei” On The Hunt For A Full-Time Bartender

August 15, 2012 

Bai Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver's Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

The GOODS from Bao Bei

Vancouver, BC | Bao Bei is looking for a passionate, creative, outgoing individual with at least 2 years bartending experience who has a good working knowledge of cocktail making, wine and beer. Must be able to multi-task in a fast-paced environment and be able to make drinks efficiently while maintaining quality. We are very much a restaurant based on teamwork and would like the successful candidate to be able to facilitate the smooth running of the restaurant in all aspects. Email resumes to office@bao-bei.ca or drop off in person between 3:30pm and 5:30pm. Learn more about Bao Bei after the jump… Read more

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Keefer’s Award-Winning “Bao Bei” Needs A Server Assistant

Bai Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver's Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

The GOODS from Bao Bei

Vancouver, BC | Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie is looking for a full-time server assistant to work in our busy, fast paced restaurant. Applicants do not necessarily have to have restaurant experience but must be hard working, fast thinking, able to multitask and possessing a positive attitude. If you would like to join our family please drop off your resume in person anytime between 3:30pm – 5:30pm. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more

GOODS: Keefer’s Award-Winning “Bao Bei” On The Lookout For A Skilled Host/Hostess

April 21, 2012 

Bai Bei Chinese Brasserie is located at 163 Keefer St. in Vancouver's Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca

The GOODS from Bao Bei

Vancouver, BC | We are seeking the right person to manage the very busy door at Bao Bei.  Due to our no reservations policy, the host/hostess job entails more then just seating tables.  We require someone who can run the door list efficiently by managing the comings and goings of people and delivering appropriate wait times.  He/she will have to acquire a keen understanding of the flow of the room in order to facilitate several smooth turnovers.  This person should have a strong sense of organization, patience, be able to perform any tasks required of them and maintain a professional but friendly manner with the customers. If you think you got what it takes, bring it on Tuesday, April 24th or Thursday, April 26th, with your resume between 2pm and 4pm. Learn more about the restaurant after the jump… Read more

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