Bao Down, I bow down now to your awesome food and mural designs. Fleetingly I wondered how a yum Bao restaurant would fit the Mount Coolum shopping centre. Don’t get me wrong I love this shopping centre – it has my favourite hippy shop, Dragonfly Dreaming just two shops away from Bao Down. But I pondered how they could turn a box like shop space into an attractive and inviting restaurant.
With full murals on both side walls and a back wall covered in gold origami paper cranes.
What You Will Find in This Post
Bao Down Mount Coolum Murals
We were passing by so stopped to check-out the ambience, menu and to make a booking. The local grapevine recommended this restaurant and we didn’t want to miss out on a table. It was about 5 pm (Open 5 pm till 8 pm) when we spotted the two amazing mural covered walls through the totally open front of house.
Friendly Staff and Casual Atmosphere
The lovely staff made us feel completely at ease on our reconnaissance mission. After a quick look at the menu and those amazing murals we made a booking for 6.30 pm. Walking to the counter is a little like walking down a church aisle. Either side are long identical timber tables with plank seats. Orders are taken at a central counter (or sometimes at the table), meals and drinks are delivered and you pay at the counter later.
It’s reasonable to expect you will be sharing tables unless your party is large. We did indeed share – the two of us down one end, a young couple at the other with a single diner between. I noticed several lone diners. I guess the laid back atmosphere and shared tables creates a feeling of togetherness. Our neighbours even had a quick pre-dinner game of cards. A few customers purchased take-aways but this didn’t detract from the atmosphere.
The plank style seating accommodates kids perfectly and the menu offers Baby Bao buns ($5) tweaked for the younger palate. When we arrived there was a largish group with young children looking totally relaxed about their dining experience.
These Buddha Hand Limes decorated the counter top.
Bao Down Menu and Food
The menu is broken down under headings.
Bao are $7 each.
Marty chose the Sticky Honey Soy Pork Bao with pickled cucumber sticks, sesame seeds and shiso. I had a tiny taste of this heaven. It was basically pulled pork with an addictively delicate flavour on a steamed bao bun. The pickled cucumber complimented the pork perfectly. Other Bao menu choices were Sliced Rump Steak with Kimchi and Melted Cheese… Katsu Fried Chicken (KFC)… Soft Shell Crab… Cauliflower – all interestingly dressed.
I went for the 5 dumplings ($9 under the Plus Plus heading). Plus Plus dishes don’t have descriptions. They were good steamed dumplings with a mysterious pinky/purple outer layer and tangy sauce. Our waiter relayed that the colour and tang was from the Chinese red vinegar sauce. Expect the unexpected.
Bao Down Coolum Mains
Both Marty and my mains came from the Curry Menu.
My Kung Pao Chicken main ($26) comprised free range chicken breast chunks cooked to juicy perfection with a sticky coating and chilli (medium) shallots and cashews. Classified as a curry it arrived with separate rice. The flavours in this dish packed a delicious punch. It was a large meal so I took leftovers home in a little cardboard carry box and created a salad with them the next day.
Marty’s main was a Lamb Massaman curry ($25). We eat a lot of curries and I thought he might have ordered a more creatively. Toward the end of his meal he offered me a taste. OMG the flavour! It was quite possibly the best curry I’ve tasted. Yes, that good. The lamb is braised in coconut with steamed daikon, sweet potato, shallots with separate rice.
Bao Down Mount Coolum Plus Plus
Our table neighbours ordered Fish wings ($10) with caramel sauce from the Plus Plus section. The fleshy fish wings were deep fried, crispy, piled high and looked finger licking good. This was confirmed later. Other Plus Plus items ($5-$12) included Gyoza, BBQ Pork/Vegetarian Buns, White Kimchi, Spicy Agadahi Tofu, Szechuan Calamari and more.
This section of the menu offers things like Chicken and Jalapeno Pho (it’s on my list), Shitake Laksa, Not Pad Thai, Ramen and Hokkein. Priced around $16. Extra meat/fish/prawns/tofu can be added for $4.
Bao Down Mount Coolum is Licensed
Beers $6 (Tallies $9) Wines $20 – $35/bottle. Wines are classified by district. My $6 glass of Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills was excellent. It would have been $10 anywhere else. Because I was so impressed, I asked the name and was told it was by Amadio.
Seasonal Menu Changes at Bao Down Mount Coolum – Update October 2018.
We continue to return to Bao Down for family dinners and it continues to change with the seasons. We returned this week (October 2018) to find a changed menu. The Kung Pao Chicken and Lamb Massaman we’d ordered previously were gone.
Curries were now Beef Rendang ($30), Thai Red Duck ($32), the interesting Sour Orange Chicken ($27) and a vegetarian fragrant yellow curry of red yams, mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini flowers ($24). The Curry Menu items have increased in price.
As our group was larger this time and included children we zeroed in the smaller menu options. Soon cries of No Pork Bao! were heard. But of the bao on the menu, we thought the Sticky Caramel Crab was outstanding. From the Bao for younger taste buds, the Napoli Chicken was declared winner.
The Plus Plus Menu option is interesting and shouldn’t be overlooked. From it, I chose Wok Fried Greens ($10 and flavourful) and Lime and Pepper Calamari ($12). They were both delicious and served hot – I could tell they had come straight from the wok. The calamari strips were plump and juicy and perfect with a squeeze of citrus and a dip of lime mayo. The heaped bowl of shoestring fries were a bargain at $5 and the fries were thin and crispy and once again served piping hot. I’m adding Bao Down to my growing list of places that serve great fries on the Sunshine Coast.
The dish we were least impressed by was the Singapore Noodles.
When ordering, I recommend sticking with the Curries/Bao and Plus Plus menu. The drinks menu continues to be budget friendly. You can bring your own wine but the corkage charge is $10. This time around they had run out of Shiraz but kindly offered to drop the corkage charge if we popped out to the nearby “Bottle O” to purchase some.
Daily Dose Cafe is next door to Bao Down and is currently having an Asian Night on Friday Nights.
Made to Pin
Where is Bao Down Restaurant Australia?
This Bao restaurant is located at the Mount Coolum shopping centre just minutes from Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. Just head south along David Low Way past Point Arkwright and the seaside suburb of Yaroomba toward the clearly visible Mount Coolum.
Bao Down Verdict
This Asian restaurant ticks all our boxes. It’s in our neighbourhood, friendly, casual and with an exciting quirky menu. It is affordable dining at it’s best.
We live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Read about another exciting Sunshine Coast Asian Restaurant on the Wharf Mooloolaba.
If you have a blog, please add a travel post containing a travel photo (because we all love them) to the link below for Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday which we co-host with Ruth from Tanama Tales and Rachel from Rachel’s Rumination.