Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bao Down

Some  work buddies and I saw an article about this place opening soon and knew we had a lunch date to plan. When I read about the concept, bao-steamed rice buns stuffed with tasty sounding fillings, my mouth started to water. 

The space is a 2-floor set up with counter seating on the main floor and a few small tables on the 2nd floor. Here you’ll pay for your meal before getting a number and finding a seat. It can get quite busy in this 25ish seating restaurant. 

Water service is self-serve and you have choices of cucumber or lemon/lime water. THIS IS DELICIOUS and AWESOME. I hope more places start offering this. It’s such a simple, yet special touch. And a big step up from the usual glass of lukewarm tap water that you have to ask for.  I also have to give a shout out to the staff, who were both very friendly and enthusiastic about the food. 

The menu consists of bao tacos, sandwiches, and a small variety of sides (a chowder, slaw, fries, poutine) and every item features Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese inspired flavours. Steamed Bao are $5/6, Sandwiches are $10-12, and sides are between $3-8.
I had 2 Bao, the Vevo ($5) Tamari braised shitake mushrooms, garlic pea shoots, sprouts, organic red kale, avocado, organic carrot & beet strings, ginger-peanut sauce and toasted sesame seeds and the Jaws ($5) Coconut crusted Ocean Wise Vietnamese catfish, kimchi tartar sauce, micro greens & cabbage in Thai vinaigrette.

The Vevo was their veggie option that truly packed a punch with fresh, plentiful fillings, harmonious flavour pairings and giant juicy mushrooms. In fact, my only suggestion would be to slice the mushrooms as the large pieces were a bit tricky to eat and smaller pieces might spread throughout the bao easier to ensure some mushroom with every bite. The ginger peanut sauce is a delicious and dominating force in this bao. Sooo good.

The Jaws was delicious too with a generous amount of coconut crusted catfish which was full of flavour and cooked to juicy perfection. Texture and flavour here are just great.

I also noshed on some of my buddy’s Kimchi Fries ($8). This is a generous serving, quite decadent and great to share. The Kimchi is a nice accent and the sour, spicy flavour pairs well with the fries and other heavy elements with the dish. The fries get very soggy on the bottom, but when its so tasty, it doesn’t really matter.

Bao Down is a cool space serving up food that is undeniably delicious. It’s definitely not a budget lunch since you are looking at likely two baos and a side to fill you up.

Bao Down on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cinco De Mayo at Tacomio

I had a lunch date set up with some lady friends from the last series I worked on.  The lunch date happened to be on May 5, Cinco de Mayo, so I suggested we go for tacos in the gastown/Chinatown ‘hood. We decided to go check out a relatively new taco joint, Tacomio.

Tacomio is a small fast-food style joint with warm, sunny decors and a unique, festive ambiance. Although the place is fast-food styled, everything is made fresh daily and almost everything on the menu is made from scratch. These are street style tacos. Smaller, a few bites, with various fillings in two layers of soft corn tortillas. You get to choose any 4 tacos for $10.

The interior of the restaurant itself is definitely noteworthy. Everything from the light fixture to the wooden counters make the place super warm and welcoming. There is even a cute hand-painted mural on the wall showing different exports of Mexico. Seating space is limited (small counter dining only) so I wouldn’t recommend this for another group meal date.

The staff is super friendly and I loved that they were celebrating Cinco de Mayo, offering complimentary strawberry tequila popsicles and hibiscus drinks. I liked their recycled cardboard taco vessels in which the tacos were served that kept everything upright and organized. I also enjoyed their salsa station and availability of pickled cauliflower and jalapenos.

Unfortunately, these tacos were a disappointment. I found the tortillas tasted bland and a bit stale. I also found that the tacos were quite bland and needed generous dollops of their salsas. I found the menu pretty limited for vegetarian, dairy free and wished that they had a fish or shrimp option on the menu.

Tacomio on Urbanspoon