Modern Cantonese restaurant Bako hopes to open its doors the first week of October, on the heels of Momiji, just a few blocks away. However Bako owner Keeman Wong updated Eater on what to expect as his forthcoming restaurant, part of the surging dining scene on the very north end of Broadway.
Wong, whose parents ran a restaurant in Richmond, has been working with his chef, Santa Barbara-area export Augusto Caudillo, to develop his menu of Cantonese-style plates. The flavors, says Wong, are lighter and cleaner than their brash, spicy Szechuan counterparts. Dishes on the menu have been updated, refined and tweaked to incorporate some elements of the Northwest and an "urban Hong Kong vibe."
While traditional Cantonese meals are served family-style, Wong laments that this format makes it tough for smaller groups to sample multiple dishes. Bako will do smaller-sized plates and some larger platters that two people can share. The restaurant is meant to be a casual, affordable place (they even do take-out), but Wong says the food is refined and he intends the service to be on par with finer establishments.
And then there are the cocktails.
Bako will have an eight-seat bar (with a fancy Kold-Draft ice machine, for the record). Charles Malody, a longtime presence in the city's food and beverage industry, consulted on the cocktail list.
The drink menu has three sections: first, classically rooted cocktails, such as a blood and sand variation made with Irish whiskey. Next, original drinks inspired by the colonial roots in China and elsewhere in Asia; these drinks will have tropical influences and plenty of rum bases. One example from this list, says Malody, is the Jimmy's Pearl, named for the original owners of the Jade Pagoda, the somewhat legendary dive Chinese joint that occupied this space for decades. The gin-based Jimmy's Pearl has the softness of an egg white drink but uses some tough-to-source citrus notes to "end up with a really sharp, sour zing," he says.
The final portion of the menu is a list of original drinks, designed to complement the Cantonese cuisine and represent "the spirit of Bako," he says.
The restaurant's food and drink development has been unusual, says Malody. "It's the only restaurant I’ve known anywhere in which the beverage and the food were developed simultaneously. Each was adjusted according to what the other was doing."
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