Bao Down – An Asian-inspired neighbourhood favourite
Bao Down is one of Cape Town’s most beloved restaurants, having gained a loyal following since they opened in 2018. Graham and Philippa Oldfield lead the tightly-knit team, and together have created one of the most exciting – and most Instagrammable – places to eat in the city.
Graham’s Asian-American menu includes, of course, the eponymous bao: a steamed, filled bun common in Chinese cuisine. Many other dishes that draw from cuisines throughout the Asian continent are also on the menu, and a delight for dessert lovers awaits at the end of the meal: lemon miso pie, Philippa’s rendition of a recipe by pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame.
In the carefully chosen premises where this journey began, they’ve trained chefs who’ve started at the bottom in the kitchen and worked their way up, all while assisting in implementing the restaurant’s strict recycling policy, aiming to limit or eliminate the use of plastic where possible, and staying water-wise.
“We have a very small team,” Philippa explains. “Everyone is very important and plays a vital role in the running of the restaurant.” As an owner-led business looking after a small team, these are difficult times, and with Bao Down’s doors currently closed due to COVID-19, they’ve had to adapt quickly to ensure that they keep their business alive, their team cared for, and their customers fed with their favourites. They’re now offering bao buns, sauces, and other goods via delivery, with Graham and Philippa are personally delivering orders throughout Cape Town and its surrounding suburbs, while also formulating online recipes that customers can follow at home, – taking Bao Down to their doorsteps while they’re unable to dine out.
In their partnership with UCook, Bao Down supplies their in-house Korean Hot Sauce and Spicy Soy Dressing, both of which are made fresh with mostly local ingredients.