On my second trip, I stressed I wanted my red curry five-star, Thai spicy. "Very spicy," I clarified. The kitchen issued a curry so gentle that I didn't once reach for my water glass. I can't even remember if there was a beverage on the table, an obliviousness that certainly wouldn't be compatible with a true five-star spice experience. To be fair, I'd think twice before rubbing the curry in my eye, but it wasn't exactly fiery.

Still, the absence of spice doesn't spoil a lovely dish like pad kee mao, a rice-noodle dish that's especially good with silky tofu. And it's irrelevant to a fabulous take on crying tiger beef, featuring slices of rib-eye seasoned and grilled with more finesse than many local steakhouses can muster. The marbled steak's served with sticky rice meant to be balled up and dragged through a satisfying garlicky sauce of scallions and soy.

Rice is also the centerpiece of a dessert that made me swoon: Bambu invests two days of cooking in its black rice pudding and coconut cream, a glutinous dish so beloved in Southeast Asia that it's sometimes served for breakfast. The magnificent pudding, salty and playful, is the Thai equivalent of a peanut butter cookie. It easily out-comforts the vast majority of foods to which the comfort label's affixed: Next to black rice pudding, mac-and-cheese is about as comforting as a drill sergeant.

So, yes, if you're looking for a friendly, ethnic restaurant, Bambu's your spot. I think you'll really like it. Shall we have another drink?

Bambu

1930 N. Coit Road, Suite 100, 972-480-8880, www.bambuasiancuisine.com. Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and noon-11 p.m., Sunday. $$

Hamachi cheekbone $10 Fried quail $7 Beef jerky $7 Clams $12 Tom kha gai $10 Papaya salad $8 Crying tiger beef $12 Red curry $10 Thai fried rice $8 Pad kee mao $9 Yum pla duk fu $13 Black rice pudding $5

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