Be wowed by bao, booze and beats at this triple threat of an indoor alleyway space on the outer fringe of Chinatown
We bow down to the beanie-wearing, bearded bao-fillers at this tiny hybrid modern Chinese nosh-house and nightclub – those guys are worthy of all the nod and bow praise they’re getting. The DJ cage along the back wall is a giveaway that tunes will be pumped out as the night wears on, so if it's a quiet Tsingtao you're after, best you come early in the night and early in the week.
They’re bringing back the cocktail to a craft-loving crowd here by turning the traditional delicate-stemmed affair into something with a little edge; Asian-themed sweet cocktails like Smell the Flowers (sake, lychee and elderflower) and Korea Sangria (plum wine and fruits) come served in teapots with Chinese teacups. Apple Pie is a brew of rum, cloudy apple, burnt toffee and cinnamon aromas that provides a very drinkable pour for one to four. There's craft beer, Asian beer and cider too, but it’s down to business: we're here for the bao.
House-made daily with ultra white flour, duck fat and TLC, the bao are very fine indeed – so light, we reckon they’d float if they weren’t filled. Crabbin' Out is outstanding – a pillowy fold of steamed bun that comes stuffed with the crunch of tempura soft-shell crab, shreds of green mango and papaya, and hot and sour tamarind chilli jam foiled with cooling watermelon rind pickle. Bird is the Word has crisp karaage chicken, slaw, zingy pickled ginger, sriracha mayo and a sprinkling of cashew. There’s also a beef cheek number with kimchi and beef crackle; pork belly with apple and radish remoulade and caramel macadamia; and fried tofu with shiitake mushroom and lotus root. Double down on bao and chase those savoury suckers with the Bao-nty: filled with fried ice cream, chocolate and coconut, it’s a lush and dripping dessert bun that's bao-nd to go down a treat.
If this joint didn't have a roof you might call it an alleyway: it’s a narrow galley of a space, with blacked-out walls coloured by lights and graffiti, speckled with love hearts, tigers and cherry blossoms. When you’re done downing bao, turn your attention to those not-so-innocent teapots and work your buns on the d-floor. Bao, wow.
|Venue name:||Bao Down Now|
187 Wickham St
|Opening hours:||Tue, Wed 11.30am-11pm; Thu-Sun 11.30am-2am|