I HAVE never gotten excited writing a food review as I do today because this Pan Asian cuisine restaurant / Tapas bar is something else. We all know about the izakayas, the Western pub food, the Spanish tapas bar. But has anyone heard about a Pulutan or snack bar?
In the heart of hip and happening Gastown in Vancouver, British Columbia, a new restaurant, bar, bistro, pulutan snack bar has emerged at one of the cooler parts of this Canadian city.
The great thing about this restaurant is, it is Filipino owned. And the biggest surprise? The owners are taking a leap of faith by introducing Filipino cuisine in Canada not in a “cafeteria” or canteen setting or even “turo-turo” style. Canada has its fair share of Filipino restaurants that have evolved into full on restaurant style establishments like Max’s who brought their franchise from the Philippines to Canada. However, Bao Down has leveled up the Filipino cuisine by putting it up in the heart of downtown, and by upping our sublime cuisine into works of art. They also have a luxurious bar that serves quirky Pinoy cocktails like the Cockfight, a twist to a Caesar. The bar and drinks menu have the calamansita – an homage to the margarita but using our very own Philippine lime. The bartender uses Manila rum, Philippines gin, and they have the San Miguel and Red Horse!
Instead of serving labanos in soup or pickled, they have beautifully created a radish salad that is so refreshingly cool on the palate. It made me wonder how come I have never thought about doing this dish before? Well, it took Chef Greg Edward, Matt Adolfo and their talented team to recreate our beloved Filipino dishes into dishes even foreigners are taking a liking to. On my first time at the restaurant, there were Caucasians clearly enjoying the food. On my second night last night, again, the restaurant was full of people from other ethnicities other than Filipinos, my heart was literally beaming with pride.
They serve the best ingredients on the menu — we are talking about free range chicken, wagyu beef with foie gras in their calderata, a number of dishes are gluten free. There is lechon sisig, balut, tortang talong, beautifully presented with pea shoots, baby tomatoes on top. The sandwich bao (or siopao) also makes an appearance on the menu filled with adobo, the adobo fried chicken takes the sauce out of the adobo and recreates it as a flavorful fried chicken.
But what is a Filipino meal without desserts? The quintessential Filipino dessert leche flan makes it to the dessert list — it was creamy, and they have perfected that caramelized syrup. There is a trio of ice cream made from ube, macapuno, and pandan, topped with barquillos! A bit modern dessert makes an appearance on the menu-though not so Filipino made it into my “must order” list — chocolate mousse with passion fruit.
This restaurant definitely hits a home run with its vision, and execution. It seems that there is no stopping the dynamic duo of Matt and Greg as they are poised to open in San Francisco in Union Square no less with a Bao Down restaurant, where actor /restaurateur Marvin Agustin is a partner. I cannot wait for more Bao Downs to hit every major city in the world.
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221 Carrall st