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Eat The City: Keefer and Main

East Side hotspots to appease that growling monster of a stomach
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East Side hotspots to appease that growling monster of a stomach

Bao Bei

163 Keefer St., 604-688-0876.

Smart sophistication and heartfelt updates on Chinese home-cooking classics have kept this new eatery bustling from day one.  Soft glowing lights, delicately washed-out signage, and touches of lucky red evoke Old Chinatown. Expertly composed cocktails play tangerine and plum against smoky bourbon and rye.

Most popular
Beef Tartar reinvigorates a steakhouse classic with preserved mustard root, ginger, and fried shallots.

Chef’s pick
Rekong beef noodles.

My favourite
The house-made crackling sesame Shao Bing flatbread, filled with luscious braised pork and crisp Asian pear—a balance of warmth and refinement that informs every delicious detail at Bao Bei.

Phnom Penh

244 E. Georgia St., 604-682-5777

The clatter of diners and simple décor are textbook Asian functionality, but there is real magic in the cooking. Phnom Penh’s owners will tell you that their noodle dishes, a specialty for three generations, are built on family roots. The dry egg noodles—a study in simplicity and detail—are tossed with shrimp, pork, liver, and a sprinkling of deep-fried garlic, and served with a bowl of beautiful clear broth on the side.

Chef’s pick
The refreshingly sour and spicy green papaya salad.

My favourite
Almost every table orders a plate of deep-fried garlic squid, and for good reason. Gloriously crisp and succulent, the dish is a marriage of savoury and sweet; the bracing lemon dipping sauce is seriously addictive.

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