We’re taking a tasty tour of Vancouver’s many brunches to create The Ultimate Vancouver Brunch Guide. This week we’re enjoying handheld brunch-inspired steamed bao (buns) sandwiches (as well as other delicious late morning dishes) at the recently opened Bao Down Gastropub + Raw Bar.
Olympic Village is turning into a food mecca of sorts. Eateries and drinking establishments are popping up all over the place. In addition to Porto Café and City Side Winery, Gastown’s wildly popular Bao Down recently opened the doors to a sister location on West 2nd Avenue.
Not only does the Olympic Village locale boast more space and seating (67 seats in total) than its Gastown counterpart, but it also offers a more elevated Asian fusion menu. Beyond lunch and dinner time offerings, owners Matt Adolfo and Greg Edwards have added a weekend brunch service to Bao Down’s food-focused lineup.
Although the eatery has only been in operation for two months, word has spread quickly about the sensational late-morning meals and casual vibe dished up on both Saturday and Sunday. So much so, that by 11:05 a.m. (five minutes after opening) nearly every seat in the house is taken. Perhaps the high volume of brunch eaters will persuade the owners to open a little earlier? Time will tell.
With cultural influences from Thailand, Hawaii, and the Philippines, Bao Down’s brunch menu features a unique and wide range of global styles and flavours. Brunch plates include a handful of breakfast-inspired bao buns (Korean glazed bacon, egg, and cheese–yes please!) and a long list of off “The Griddle” options.
Savoury eaters will have a hard time deciding between The Schwartz (crispy corned beef and potato hash), the Loco Moco (a contemporary Hawaiian dish of steamed rice, topped with a hamburger patty, fried eggs, and mushroom gravy), and the Under Pressure (panko fried SPAM, eggs, garlic rice, hash browns, tomato, and onion).
There’s also Bao Down’s chicken, waffle, and egg combo, which is definitely worth considering and then ordering. Aptly named The Hot Stuff, Bao Down’s rendition of this indulgent dish is off the charts. It is comprised of generous strips of addictively spicy fried chicken (it’s so spicy it will have you swiftly grabbing for a drink), crispy garlic, crisp waffles, and eggs, and is finished with a delightfully sweet macadamia syrup.
Sweet indulgences include waffles with fresh fruit and icing sugar, banana pancakes topped with macadamia nut praline, and cookie butter pancakes with tres leche syrup. A unique doughnut and French toast hybrid also features on the menu.
Those who choose this gratifying dish, Knight St. Delight, can expect to find Vancouver’s very own Duffin Doughnuts taking centre stage, after being sliced, coated in a house-made French toast mixture, grilled, then topped with five spice sugar and syrup that is.
From the bar, brunch goers will find a range of creative and well-made libations to choose from, including Bloodsport–Bao Down’s fiery take on a Caesar. Served in a glass jar this boozy concoction is made up of Walters Craft Caesar Mix and the choice of Stoli Vodka or Bombay Sapphire Gin. It sports a lava salt rim and is capped with a Worcester prawn, seared tuna, a bacon strip, and some kimchi. With so much going on up top this drink is almost a meal on its own.
Not only does Bao Down bring to the table a wide range of innovative plates, it also offers an inviting and laid back space to kick back and enjoy a meal with friends. With funky tunes playing in the background, sublime cocktails, terrific bao buns, and a neon-coloured street art wall mural, Bao Down offers a setting and menu not found elsewhere in the city.
With this in mind, the next time the question arises of where to brunch come the weekend definitely keep Bao Down in mind. But be warned, the rest of Vancouver are already in on the secret, and as such brunch goers may have to wait 30 minutes or so for a table. It’s well worth it though.
Address: 115 West 2nd Avenue, Olympic Village
Hours: Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.