Perched on the corner of Rathbone Place and Percy Street, Bam-bou serves Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai fusion in a converted London town house. The succession of rooms across several floors creates great spaces for group dining and they have a number of set banquet menus to choose from. I’m always slightly nervous about restaurants that blend very different asian styles – instead of capturing the best of both you often end up with a strangely spiced melange – but having heard glowing reviews from several trusted sources I was looking forward to giving it a go!
The menu we went for was:
Giant Crackers with Bam-Bou Chilli Jam
Nice crackers, but after A. Wong I question if they’re really giant. The jam was lovely, sticky with just the right amount of bite.
Roast Red pepper and Mango Salad
This was probably the stand out dish for me. Sweet, delicious, light, tropical and just hot enough. Balancing this kind of combination is very difficult and they got it right on the mark.
Asian crab Cakes with Cucumber Relish
Lovely meaty crab cakes with a firm texture. The lightly pickled cucumber went well and cut through the richness nicely.
Crispy Prawn Roll with Nouc Cham
The rolls were just ‘good’. Crispy, but a little light on the title ingredient, however the sauce really made it – intriguing and exotic. Yum.
Grilled Pork Salad with Peanuts and Garlic
I approve of any salad which shoe-horns in some animal. The textural contrast is really the crux of the dish and it works, lots of crisp and crunch. I’d have like to have seen them extend it the other way – some pillowy dumpling pieces would have made it incredible.
Wok Fried Mushrooms with Broccoli, Sesame and Ginger
While the broccoli made up the bulk of the dish, the star was certainly the mushrooms. Rich, meaty and full of umami.
Yellow Duck Curry with Pumpkin
A really lovely dish with a strong Thai influence – lots of coconut and lemongrass.
Steamed Sea Bass with Edamame Salad and Ginger Dressing
At the bottom of a mound of oriental veg is some really well cooked fish – the seabass is a perfect vehicle for the aromatic flavours, they just need to tweak the presentation to show it off!
Stir Fried Prawns with chili and Tomato
A classic combination of flavours. Like the last prawn dish – this was really good, just a little light on the prawns!
Steamed Fragrant Rice
Bam-Bou Noodles with beansprouts and Ginger - A bit of a non-event, compared to the quality of the other dishes – this was a bit ‘meh’. Noodles should have body, the beansprouts should have a bite, it’s not rocket science!
Work-fried Bok Choi with green Chilli and Tamari – The bak choi were small and tender, the seasoning was quite conservative which befits a side, but they could have pushed it a little further.
Oriental Fruit Plate - An exotic mix of fruit, hard to muck up.
Kumquat Brulee - I’m a sucker for anything vaguely citrusy and this was essentially marmelade brulee – what’s not to like!? The crust was thin and crisp while the custard was almost a panna cotta in texture. All it needed was a wildly inauthentic shot of Gran Marnier.
Service was polite and friendly and they were perfectly happy for us to move at our own pace through the courses. They have a nicely varied wine list and were happy to cater for our group’s varied dietary requirements.
Fusion cusine is very difficult to pull off but they produced a great meal with lovely variation, from the sweet and light to the rich and dark – if you’ve got a group of friends who are looking for a funmeal somewhere a little different then this is a great shout!