Bako brings food from cosmopolitan Hong Kong right here to Capitol Hill’s north end of Broadway. From food, to drinks and décor, owner, Keeman Wong successfully melds traditional elements with a contemporary feel at his newly opened Chinese restaurant.
This is not your regular hole in the wall International District Chinese restaurant delivering cartons of soggy Chinese food. It’s clean, modern and hip yet embraces vintage values and ideas. It fits in here on Capitol Hill joining independent restaurants like Poppie, Olivar, and Altura in proclaiming the North end of Broadway as a popular foodie destination.
Bako’s menu features modern Cantonese cooking using locally sourced ingredients. “Fortunately the tradition is very much in line with modern values. Local sourcing. Doing the minimum to the food you have to do to bring out the flavors. A better balance of meat and vegetables,” Wong said during an interview with CHS Capitol Hill Seattle blog.
They say you eat with your eyes first, but that’s not always true. Here at Bako, you definitely eat with your nose first as the smell of Chinese aromatics pleasantly permeate the restaurant. During a short wait at the bar while waiting for a table to open, I watched cooks prepare and dish out food as it came out of the kitchen. I grew hungrier and more excited with every plate that came out.
Abbie and I, along with our out of town visitors, Rion and Brinn were seated at the long granite community table that divided the dining area. Seeing how good each dish looked coming out of the kitchen, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bako’s menu items ranged between 8-15 dollars.
Craving small bites to share amongst the four of us, we ordered shrimp chive potstickers and pearls - seasoned pork studded with pearl rice and a sesame soy dipping sauce. The pot stickers were juicy morsels of pureed shrimp. My only complaint about them is that I wish we had two orders. A plate of 5 dumplings for 4 people is kind of a teaser with only having one bite of something that’s this good.
On the other hand, the pearls were visually intriguing, but I felt like the “seasoned” pork lacked seasoning and flavor. It was a juicy bite of pork and rice, but the supposed seasoning along with the blandness of the rice did nothing to bring out the sweetness that we all love from steamed ground pork. I’ll pass on these next time I come, but perhaps a tweek or two of the recipe (some sesame oil, ginger and salt perhaps) will make this dish stunning. I love the concept, but it’s just not there quite yet. The people at my party also agreed.
Looking down our community table, the Singapore Noodles was a very popular dish, and for good reason. These noodles with wild American white prawns, honey roasted pork, bean sprouts, curry and rice noodles were a favorite amongst our party, and other guests at our community table were more than satisfied with their order. The curry really propels this dish to excellence adding just enough heat, spice and sweetness to the lovely noodles, shrimp and pork.
I ordered the Shrimp and Scallop Noodle, a crispy nest of noodles with monterry squid, diver scallops, seasonal vegetables and a sweet-hot chilli sauce. This dish is probably the most visually stunning plate that I saw all night and many people throughout the restaurant had it in front of them. I enjoyed the meal very much, but I must warn you, this dish packs a lot of heat, something my waiter failed to mention. Good thing I like spicy food.
The star of the evening’s dinner was Abbie’s oxtail man tou buns. These sliders are bursting with Asian flavor. The salad of apples and fennel that comes with this dish is a perfect contrast against the rich savory flavor of the meat and crisped clam shell shaped buns. If When I come back here again, this is what I’m ordering, either as an appetizer or two orders as a main dish! If you’re looking for brilliance in a bun, make sure you order some.
Bako also separates themselves from other Chinese restaurants by having an excellent list of cocktails. We Capitol Hill dwellers are spoiled to have places to drink such as Tavern Law, Knee High Stocking Company, and Sun Liquor. It’s almost shocking that a Chinese restaurant would offer drinks of the same caliber. That’s part of what will make Bako so special.
Owner Keeman Wong sat and talked with our table for a few minutes. Along with the food and drinks, we all complimented his restaurant about the great décor, which fits his vision of traditional elements and contemporary feel. We debated whether Seattle loves or hates community tables (I think we love it as evidenced by community tables at Bravehorse Tavern, Serious Pie, Volunteer Park Café, etc.) and how his granite community fits the room perfectly and is conducive to a interactive dining experience.
A modern image of an attractive leafy pattern is projected against a white wall while vintage wallpaper inspired from the movie In the Mood for Love decorates the southern wall. A sexy vintage portrait of a Chinese man and woman marks the Men’s and Ladie’s room. White curtains drape down as a division between the bar and dining room area. Wong even says that chandeliers have yet to be installed. It all comes together very nicely adding to a fantastic dining experience.
I was glad to have eaten at Bako and even happier to meet owner Keeman Wong. He’s the type of person you meet and immediately want to patronize his business based on how nice of a guy he is. Keeman’s execution of his vision here at Bako is making the north end of Broadway quite a delicious and hip place to eat.
For those of you who do end up at Bako, let me know what you think!
606 Broadway E.
Seattle, Wa 98102