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.

Though many of the dishes at Bambu cry
out for spicier treatment, the nicely finessed
crying tiger beef is not one of them.
Sara Kerens
Though many of the dishes at Bambu cry out for spicier treatment, the nicely finessed crying tiger beef is not one of them.

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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