We have been driving by Bamboo Café on Bethel Rd for the past month or so– the spot they now fill has been empty a while. The reason – it is located behind a McDonald’s. Not the best location for any business, much less a restaurant. However, Annie was intrigued by the “curtain” of live bamboo that screen the window and the very beautiful décor within. Much begging ensued and we reluctantly gave in.
The Bamboo Café promises both Vietnamese and Thai food. We like both. We have our favorite places to go for each cuisine, but there is always room for one more restaurant on our list. MiLi’s (MiMi’s) is my normal go-to place for pho and sets the standard by which I judge all others. We have also become big fans of Tai Thai in Grandview for Thai curries.
We came into a nearly empty restaurant on a Thursday lunch. There was a single waitress on the floor and one other couple at a neighboring table. As we sat down, we admired the scenery – bamboo walls, a bamboo archway over the entrance to the kitchen, rich textiles under the glass of the tabletops. It looked nice.
The menu was limited, but offered a sampling of standard dishes from both cuisines. The prices were a little on the high side - $10.00 for a bowl of pho, $9.50 for curry.
After looking over the menu, I decided to get the Pho. Annie chose a Thai red curry. Tony asked the waitress what she recommended and she pointed out the same pho dish that I had ordered, so that is what he ordered. Tony and Annie asked for water, and I ordered hot tea.
The whole group started to get bad “vives” when the add-ins for the pho came out. The Thai basil was wilted and bruised, as was the culantro. The sirrachi and hoisin sauce bottles were kind of “gnarley” and needed a good wipe down.
Yummmm - rotting vegetation!
The food arrived quickly. Much to our regret. It was terrible. I know that is brutal – but true.
The worst bowl of pho EVER!
First the pho. For those of you who have never had pho, I need to explain a basic technique that goes with the dish. Thinly sliced raw beef is placed into the bowl, then very hot broth is poured over the top. This cooks the beef quickly, and it is very tender. I’ve heard it termed “shaboo-shaboo style”. Not so with the Bamboo café. The meat had been precooked, re-warmed (possibly in a microwave) and then put in the soup. It was like chewing on old shoe leather. The same was true of the tendon meatballs. I had never had a tough meatball before – but I can no longer say that. To top all this off – the broth was straight out of a can. Nasty, metallic beef broth. The whole dish was inedible.
My daughter’s curry was the wrong dish. She had ordered the red curry. What she received was a pale yellow in color. The beef was the same as in the pho – pre-cooked, re-warmed and dumped into re-warmed curry base. The curry sauce had no real flavor other than that of coconut milk. So, tough nasty beef in a bland sauce.
Does this look red to you?
The meal was so bad we didn’t finish it. The waitress asked if we wanted to take the leftovers home and we said no. In most restaurants with an experienced wait staff – this would have been a tip off something was wrong. Fat people who didn’t want to take the extras home. We tried to explain that the food was not good, but the explanation appeared to be lost on her, as her English vocabulary was not very strong.
We were presented with the bill. I asked her to take off the tea – which I had never received. All told, our lunch came to $35.00 with tip. That is a lot cash for bad food and mediocre service in a pretty setting.
So, in summation, I would rather have bamboo under my fingernails than ever eat at Bamboo Cafe again.