The West Coast Needs More Restaurants That Focus on Mantou Buns…

Restaurant Porn is a column of daydreams presented as a means to introduce BC diners and designers to concepts, looks, and fully-formed ideas that they might draw an inkling of inspiration from.

(via) We have our fair share of quick and easy restaurants that offer pillowy soft mantou bun variations on their menus, but there’s always room for more, especially if they are laser focused and look as good and simple as the original, 32-seat Soho location of UK chainlet, Bao.

The company has built three other locations since its launch in 2015, which is to say it’s somewhat reminiscent of Vancouver’s own once-exploding Bao Down concept, the only remaining location of which (in Olympic Village) could use some competition. If tuned, branded and staffed just right, a counter-service cheap and cheerful mantou-focused restaurant should totally light the lamp in BC.

For those unfamiliar, this pillowy style of “bao” (literally “bun”) is a convenient comfort food thought to have originated in northern China well over 2,000 years ago (a fact that hasn’t stopped people from referring to them as “Chinese tacos”). It is typically enjoyed folded and stuffed with all manner of things delicious, everything from torched meats to pickled vegetables.

If you want to sample some local exemplars, try the Taiwanese-style gua bao with pork belly and powdered peanuts at Victoria’s Bao (unrelated); the palate-pulsing spicy Hunan beef belly mantou with leeks, pickled celery and sawtooth coriander at Bao Bei in Chinatown; the Bao Chicka Bao Bao with lemongrass chicken, garlic aioli and fish sauce at the aforementioned Bao Down on West 2nd Avenue; or the deeply flavourful Peking Duck bao with crispy onions at Heritage Asian Eatery.

In the meantime, dig into these images of Bao in Soho and try imagining something like it on the main drag in Tofino, adjacent to a new brewery in Kelowna, or in a second-storey hideaway in Vancouver’s Chinatown…

– Images via Carol Sachs – 

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