Have you a hankering from something other than a kebab after getting all up in the club? A notable absence of quality after-hours eats has tarnished Fortitude Valley with a greasy brush for too long. Enter Bao Down Now, who aim to repair the Valley's late-night dining rep one bao at a time.
Part micro club, part grab-and-go kitchen, the Wickham Street newcomer specialises in steamed buns filled with the likes of gnarly grilled meats, pillowy tofu and, the rumours are true, even ice cream. The bao buns are freshly made 'round the clock, whether you're grabbing a bite for lunch, dinner or a midnight snack. They're generously sized, but a minimum order of two is highly recommended.
Chow down on the kick-in-the-pants karaage fried chicken with sriracha mayo and Asian slaw, braised beef cheek with kimchi salad and crackle, or hot and sour soft-shell crab with mango, papaya and pickled melon rind. The Belly Bao is a hands-down winner, with its gloriously sticky-sweet pork belly, crunchy batons of apple, and caramelised macadamias. The emphasis here is firmly on freshness and flavour.
Tofu and shitaake mushroom with lotus root and yuzu is on offer for the herbivorous among us, as is the choice to have your favourite fillings made into a rice bowl if you're not one for the steamed bun. One bao will set you back a cool $7, or $12 for two bao or a rice bowl. The deep fried ice cream bao is being finalised as we speak; whisperings say it will feature decadent chocolate ice cream with lashings of caramel and a crumbly nut topping.
As for the libations, a menu of shared teapot cocktails includes (but is certainly not limited to) an espresso-liqueur-based Vietnamese Coffee and a Toasted Coconut, made on gin, coconut water and pandan. Craft beer, wine and spirits are also available.
The space itself is maximum casual, with graffiti-clad walls, communal tables, bar-type seating and couches you can seriously sink into. It's the ideal setting for post-work drinks and eats on a Friday afternoon.
A DJ booth brings up the rear of the venue, with guest beat-masters set to make a regular appearance. Bao Down Now definitely swings into action after bedtime, when the chairs and tables are pushed to the side to make way for whip/nae nae-ing and other obscure dance moves.
Want the location, opening hours, and all the details? Find Bao Down Now on The Directory here!
Image credit: Esteban Rivera