Checking out Stack Seaburn's newest trader Bao Down - and how to bag some bargain dishes in Sunderland this spring
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Where once the seafront was mostly home to Indian restaurants, Italian and, of course, chippies, hungry visitors can now tuck into more global fare.
And that’s thanks, in part, to Stack Seaburn, the £3million shipping container village which has helped breathe new life into the area.
More than 700,000 people visited in its first year of trading, and that was with reduced capacity due to Covid. There’s much to reel them in at this new city landmark which takes your tastebuds on a trot around the globe, from a classic British chippy tea at Downey’s to thali at Big Fat Indian Kitchen and Mexican munches from Chapo’s Tacos.
The latest addition takes its culinary cues from the Far East with a range of steamed buns, gyozas and more. Here’s what to expect from Bao Down.
On the menu
Housed in the former Longhorns unit in the upper plaza, Bao Down, as the name would suggest, specialises in Bao buns, Chinese steamed buns, as well as other Asian treats such as Japanese Gyoza and Korean fried chicken.
Ideal hand-held street food, they’re priced £8 for two and you can choose to mix and match from either classic barbecue Korean pork, served with sriracha mayo, spring onion and sesame seeds; katsu chicken with Asian slaw, curry and garlic mayo; crispy Peking duck with spring onion, cucumber, hoisin sauce and sesame seed; barbecue jackfruit with sriracha mayo, spring onion and sesame seeds; sticky sesame chicken with coriander, sweet chilli sauce and Asian slaw; katsu prawn with chilli and lime mayo and pickled cucumber and crispy tofu and oyster mushrooms with chilli and garlic oyster mushrooms, kimchi mayo, coriander and crushed peanuts.
The perfectly-springy buns, packed with plenty of flavour, were actually some of the best food I’ve had at Stack – some of the other places have been a bit hit and miss at times.
Bao buns aren’t a feature on many Sunderland menus, if any, and this version is flying the flag for these ancient Chinese favourites in style. As well as the main ingredient they come loaded with toppings with that distinct umami of Asian food.
I also really enjoyed the gyoza, which are great value at £4.50 for six. We chose the duck dumplings, which proved utterly moreish, particularly when dunked in the accompanying sticky hoisin sauce.
Line your stomach further with some loaded fries (£6.50). We devoured a portion loaded with slow cooked pulled pork, Asian BBQ sauce, sriracha mayo, spring onion and sesame seeds.
Shave some pounds off your bill with the Fiver Fest offer.
Running throughout February and March, customers can pick up a loyalty card on their visit – collecting a stamp each time they purchase a £5 item from any trader. (There’s a number of Fiver Fest dishes on each menu, reduced to a fiver from the usual price)
As well as saving on the fiver dish, once the card is completed, visitors will then be able to redeem the card against a £5 drinks voucher for the consumption of alcohol/soft drinks anytime up until, March 31 2022.
It’s worth noting that now restrictions are lifted, Stack operates, as it was intended, as a walk-in only venue. You can only reserve tables if you’re booking a package for one of its event nights. There’s no longer table service either, you collect from the individual units yourself.
The current Stack is just phase 1 of the transformation of the old Seaburn Centre site.
This year, work is due to begin on phase 2 at the rear of the existing site which will feature larger, more experiential containers for gaming and functions.
Above the main entrance, Stack already has a bridal suite which will be available exclusively for people who have a function in phase 2.
Meanwhile, the walkway outside of the Stack Seaburn and the Seaburn Inn is undergoing more than £1 million of improvements that includes new street furniture, planters and paving to match the look of the eastern promenade.
Elsewhere in the area, as part of the wider Seafront Regeneration Scheme, a new seafood restaurant will open in the coming weeks after the transformation of the storage shelter on Seaburn promenade.
Further up the coast, work is nearing completion on the new Tin of Sardines gin bar in an old toilet block in Pier View. The site, which hadn’t been used as toilets since the opening of the new public toilet block on Marine Walk, has been given new life with a terrace offering some of the best panoramic views of Roker in the city.
Plans have also been approved to turn the old Victorian tram shelter on the coast road in Seaburn into a deli and eatery by the team behind the popular Blacks Corner in Boldon.