The Jade Pagoda, the long-lived but eminently cheesy Chinese place that lived on Broadway until it was shuttered a few years ago, was never about the food.
No, it was the kitschy digs, the waiters dressed up in shoddy sailor suits, the bad (but strong!) cocktails that called to us…it was an experience. And the food was about as bad as you’d expect. But like the Twin Teepees (may they rest in peace), the Pagoda was a neighborhood icon.
So I'm happy to report that the Pagoda's old space is being reborn into another Chinese restaurant, although one with much loftier ambitions. Keeman Wong, a Vancouver, BC native whose family is in the restaurant biz, will open 40-seat Bako (BAH-ko) this fall.
Wong describes Bako as a refined, modern Cantonese restaurant; careful sourcing, a focus on seasonal and local products, a kitchen decked out with commercial wok stations (to get higher heat and that elusive “wok hay” that gives properly wokked foods that craveable crust), and smaller portion sizes will distinguish Bako from other more mainstream Cantonese restaurants.
Wong even threw out a few menu items he's dreamed up: hand-shredded chicken noodle salad; beef shortrib clamshell baos (buns); stuffed tofu pockets; steamed pearl ball dumplings made with rice and pork; oyster and kale claypots; clams with fermented black bean sauce; house-made pickles; and meats such as char siu (honey roasted pork made without the red artificial dye).
Watch for Bako’s debut in October.