Tannis Ling, a Vancouver native who grew up in Kerrisdale, opened Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie in 2009 after five years of work as the star bar manager at Chambar, an award-winning restaurant on Beatty Street. She was 33 when she opened the restaurant to massive critical acclaim.
A City of Vancouver grant that supports new neon signs in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside helped fund the installation of the Bao Bei neon sign that hangs outside the restaurant. The sign is inspired by old-world commercial design for Chinese medicine packaging, an extension of Tannis’ vision for the restaurant to bring together the old and new.
“Bao Bei is a true extension of what I am,” she says, explaining how the contemporary restaurant honours her roots.
“It always seemed kind of obvious to me to open up in Chinatown. A lot of people thought it was a risky idea, you know, bordering the Downtown Eastside. There wasn’t much down here at the time I opened, and it wasn’t an inviting area for people to come down to. So I had a lot of people warn me against it.
But to me, Chinatown has always been such a special place. My parents and I always used to come shopping here every weekend when I was a child.
I have very fond memories of coming down here on Sundays and doing all our shopping and eating buns and drinking soymilk and just wandering around, taking in all the sights the sounds.
When I was a child, it was quite a lively, bustling neighbourhood. When I moved away [in my twenties] and then came back [to Vancouver], I wandered around Chinatown, and it seemed a little bit deflated to me.”
CLOSE FULL STORY
-Tannis Ling, owner, Bao Bei Chinese Braserie