Best New Design

Bao Bei

163 Keefer St.

Tannis Ling’s Bao Bei is a multiple winner and a new bright light among the venerable venues of Chinatown. In contrast to the clatter and fluorescent lighting of the district’s historic eateries, Bao Bei shines with a quirky, comfy personality crafted by design co-authors Tannis Ling and Craig Stanghetta. The combination of family memorabilia-check out the giant photo of Ling’s father’s rock ‘n’ roll band at the back-and Craigslist-sourced used furniture, funky crafted lights, and rough-painted wood adds to the patina; plus, it’s got the best new neon sign to grace this city in years. If Bao Bei pushes the edges of restaurant history in Chinatown, Silver-winning Judas Goat (27 Blood Alley, 604-681-5090. pushes literal edges. Sibling to Salt (a past Design Award winner), it makes its microscopic square footage workable by nudging the pop-yellow stools into the kitchen inside and pushing them into the alley outside when weather permits (props to architect Gair Williamson for the creativity). A pigskin banquette and punchy art by Robert Chaplin and Natalie Purschwitz add to the fun. Honourable Mentions: Oru (1038 Canada Pl., 604-695-5500. brings a graceful sensibility to the local hotel restaurant game, the judges particularly appreciating the subtle, beautiful, extraordinary origami light designed by Joseph Wu. Light-filled Meat & Bread (370 Cambie St., 604-566-9003. does its historic bones proud with clean lines and great surfaces. The use of glossy-white subway tile and a magnetic strip of carving knives contributes to its old-school-butcher vibe. The white paint treatment on the original red brick keeps the room light and airy. And points for the vintage leather punching bag that the owners picked up for a song on eBay.


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