Review: Happy Hour at Bao Down

Posted on February 18, 2017 - Bao Down is about to celebrate its 2nd birthday in Vancouver. And how will they be celebrating? By opening their newest location on Commercial Drive. Because Vancouverites just can’t get enough of the Asian street food, Pacific rim flavours and modern twists on classic Asian dishes. As Bao Down describes it, they’re bringing together “the mouth-watering flavours and spices of the Orient with fresh vegetables and proteins of the Pacific Northwest.” Now that has Vancouver written all over it.

We recently visited Bao Down’s Olympic Village location, Bao Down Gastropub + Raw Bar, for happy hour. This is Bao Down’s second of three locations; the original Bao Down is Bao Down Gastown and their latest venture is a Snackbar serving Filipino inspired tapas, also in Gastown. Each Bao Down offers a slightly different menu and specializes in unique dishes. But the flavour and quality are universal across all three locations.

If the regular Bao Down Gastropub + Raw Bar menu is a little outside of your price range, we highly recommend paying them a visit during their daily happy hour (3:00 – 6:00 PM). Like most restaurants, Bao Down has drink specials during their Happy Hour, but you’re here for the food. During happy hour, you can indulge in $1 raw oysters, perfectly shucked and served with delicious sauces, half price appetizers, and of course, bao specials.

On our most recent visit, my dining companion and I shared a dozen raw oysters, two baos, the Bao Chicka Bao Bao and YVR Bao, and an order of Bang Bang Prawns. I’m still salivating thinking back to our delicious after work snack. Of course, we had to add a couple of glasses of the house white to go with our meal.

The oysters were super fresh. We both loved the spicy ginger sauce, but there’s also an Asian pear sauce if you’re more inclined to add something sweet to your raw seafood. After polishing those off, we moved onto our baos. The Bao Chicka Bao Bao, one of Bao Down’s most popular orders, is filled with garlic and lemongrass grilled chicken, daikon, carrots and drizzled with fish sauce and garlic mayo. The flavour of each bite was amazing and we loved that the carrots and daikon gave the bao an extra crunch.

The YVR bao, with albacore tuna tataki, avocado and pea shoots, was my favourite. The tuna was perfectly tender, the shoyu added just the right amount of sweetness and the bacon was a great crunchy addition. Lastly, we dove into the Bang Bang Prawns. We loved smothering our rice flake and coconut breaded prawns with the delicious thick peanut sauce. And once we polished off the prawns, we got to enjoy the bed of shrimp chips they were served on.

The food at Bao Down was incredible. The service was fast and friendly.  And the atmosphere of the restaurant, with their funky yet fancy decor, was perfect for catching up with a friend over great food. We already have plans to return for happy hour and to stop by for their regular dinner menu as well as their weekend brunch.

Will we see you there? What do you recommend we order on our next visit to Bao Down?

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