Bam-bou, Percy Street – This part of London is just full of restaurants. Walking through Fitzvoria, I had to quickly get my Evernote application out to list all these fantastic (judging by the look) restaurants. Oh, I just wish I had a bigger belly! Bam-bou sits at the bottom of Charlotte Street. Bam-bou prides itself as a Vietnamese restaurant but has a mixture of Chinese, Thai, Japanese influence and of course, Vietnamese.
Inside, was captivating. Bam-bou is on two floors. I am tempted to explore this building which is divided into several enclosed areas. The dining area downstairs sets in an old-fashioned and elegant manner. The large picture of a Vietnamese (?) lady sitting cross-legged, hands clasping together in a Buddha’s position reminds the room of it’s Oriental feel. Up the stairs and into another dining area, is the bar. Adjacent to that is a smaller room that sits up to 18 people furnished with a fireplace. I peered into every room feeling excited and enthralled at the place. The lighting is dim, inviting and friendly. I start imagining myself living in a place like Bam-bou as opposed to running a restaurant in this town house.
As the evening progresses and the dining area fills up, it is unfortunate how unpleasantly loud and disturbing it got. It was difficult to hold a decent conversation. For that reason, it is not particularly nice unless you have booked the private room or if you are loud enough and have the stamina to compete with the other loud diners.
Bam-bou’s menu has dual purpose; being a menu and a table mat. A good mixture of meat and vegetarian dishes available in small plates to main dishes, it is wise to find out which of the dishes are being served with rice to avoid ordering an extra portion. Only after ordering, did I realize that i had missed out on the soup noodles that sits on the top of the boxed area. Peering at the desserts, I have to admit that I tailored my main course hopefully to have enough space to fit a whole portion of dessert.
Immediately, we were served with a complimentary Bam-bou bowl of soup with coriander and chilli. Light, refreshing broth was comforting and warming on a cold winter night.
salt and pepper soft shelled crab with spicy tofu mayonnaise GBP 7.50 – tasty crab and could do without the tofu mayonnaise, which sounded better on the menu and tofu being tofu is bland. Unless you really like soft shelled crab, do not get enticed by the spicy tofu mayonnaise.
hanoi style short ribs GBP 7.50 – delicious! Give me a bowl of rice with it and I am happy. The sticky dry sauce clinging to the meat is sufficient to leave you finger licking good!
crushed prawns, crab, sweet potato and taro cake GBP 6.00 – this would have been better served as a street food but brought to dining at this price, it is not such a sought after dish.
wok fried cuttlefish with lemongrass, chilli and ginger GBP 7.50 – the cuttlefish was burried under the pile of leaves, my guess, disguising the hideously minute amount of the cuttlefish. The amount was not substantial enough that I cannot remember the taste of the cuttlefish, of which I am very fond, as I am of a seafood in general.
baked sea bass with coconut and star anise GBP 15.50 – I am glad that the star anise does not overpower the fish but you can hardly taste it. Fish, well-cooked. Such a small portion.
slow cooked pork belly with morning glory and jasmine tea egg GBP 13.00 – I am comparing this to a similar version of a Chinese dish. In the Chinese version, want the egg cooked so tough that the egg white has a texture contrasting to the glutinous and melting slow cooked pork belly and the egg yolk which is powdery would fall apart and soak in the sticky gravy which leaves a stickiness to your lips. If this is the Chinese version, disappointing. If this is the Vietnamese version, I am not thrilled.
thai prawn green curry GBP 13.50 – fragrant coconut sauce but again, very small portion.
peppered beef fillet with kow choi and shaoxing GBP 15.75 – the beef was tender, and very tasty. It is no surprise that this is Bam-bou’s signature dish.
egg noodles GBP 4.75 – tasty.
morning glory GBP 4.75 – limp vegetables and slightly sad.
double layer cheesecake with kiwi compote GBP 6.00 – was good, but nothing special.
chocolate and tamarind pot GBP 5.00 – it is a mousse for sure but I am unsure about the combination of tamarind with chocolate. You get the chocolate followed by the tamarind flavour. Unfortunately, they do not ‘click’ together nor do they compliment each other in this dish. One of my fellow diners commented that it unfortunately tasted as if there had been an accident involving detergent while preparing the chocolate mousse! Foolish enough to order, it reconfirmed my thoughts about combination of chocolate and tamarind.
selection of ice-creams and sorbets GBP 4.25 – I chose ginger which was a boring and chocolate ice-cream was delightful enough.
Service was rushed with the occassional cold smile.
I would definitely want to return because of the place but surely that is not the point of visiting a restaurant, right? Especially at the prices that they are charge.
Place: 8/10 (Love the toilets!)
Food: 6 /10
1 Percy Street
+44 (0)20 7323 9130