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Bando (formerly Hunan House) in Middletown

At the former Hunan House site, the new place is open. It's called Bando. I have not been there yet. Taiwanese and Shanghai cooking.
655 State Highway No 35, Middletown
(732) 671-5588

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  1. Just stopped in to pick up a take-out menu. Nice decor inside. Menu has most of the standard items, but a few extras. There are some curry (Thai) dishes and some Kim Chee. (And maybe some other Korean things; I'm not too familiar with that cuisine.) It has a section for noodle dishes, and one for sauce over rice. Plus it has lobster and Dungeness crab. Prices are typical. I'm looking forward to trying it.

    1. Val Ann C, I am so glad that you mentioned this place! I would never have known about this place until I saw this yesterday! Since we don't live in that neck of the woods, I rely on you letting us know. :). My family and I went to this place immediately after reading this.

      The restaurant looks really nice. It was 1:30 and there were about 20 people sitting in there. Mostly Asians, which is a good sign. This place has been opened since Wednesday.

      The menu has an extensive authentic Taiwanese cuisine and they still carried many of the favorite local Chinese takeout fare. (ie. General Tso's).

      We ordered shrimp rice cake, leek dumpling (which is vegetarian dumpling that consists of leeks, green bean vermicelli and eggs), a cold platter of drunken chicken and smoked fish. We also ordered an eels with yellow chives noodle soup and scrambled eggs with vegetables. It is an omelet with preserved turnips. Yes, we're Asian.

      The shrimp rice cake was pretty good. The leek dumpling was especially good after we dipped it in hot chili paste. The waiter was highly recommending the drunken chicken which is a Taiwanese staple. It taste like it sounds. It's cold poached chicken in Hsiao Sing Wine. My husband loved the smoked fish. The carp has been smoked with a teriyaki like marinade.

      We loved the eel noodle soup and wolfed it down. My daughter, who is a true blue American was able to eat the scrambled eggs without a problem. She got a separate wonton soup which she was able to eat with no problem.

      The service was great and attentive. The waiters speak English perfectly and were able to interpret any of the items from the menu.

      We think that this restaurant is better than Shanghai Bun and it's a nice alternative to Crown Palace. They have a much bigger menu than Shanghai Bun. It's definitely worth a try! I will definitely be going back.

      1. I felt like going out to eat tonight but was too lazy to drive to my usual spots so we tried Bando which is nearby.

        plate of 3 cold apps
        sliced roast beef- very good
        beef tendon- I have had this dish very spicy and not so spicy and like both. At Bando it is not so spicy and sliced a little thickly so it's extra chewy. I still liked it
        wine chicken- I don't like the taste of wine so didn't like it but it's my own fault for ordering it.

        taiwanese pork chop over rice- lightly breaded and fried pork cutlet served over rice with sauce and pickled veg, a red cooked egg. and cooked cabbage. I enjoyed this homestyle dish and for 7.95, it is a bargain. They serve dishes like this at Shanghai Bun but I agree with wench31 that Bando is more enjoyable.

        They had a whole flounder special for $28 that I was too cheap to order so instead we got pan fried flounder filet in a light ginger scallion sauce for $18. It was delicious.

        I found Bando to be good but not amazing. Since it's close by I will definitely go back. They have plenty of interesting things to try involving pigs blood, kidneys and duck tongues- if I ever get up the nerve.

        1. Dined at Bando for Sunday lunch. We were very pleased. We ordered 3 apps, 3 mains, a vegetable, and dessert. Portions were the right size for our group of four. Our server, Tony, was very patient explaining the Taiwanese dishes. Tony is the owners' son and he works the front desk as well.
          All the food was good. I may like this place as much as West Lake.
          - Radish cake (from specials list) -- a salty, savory paste with shredded radish, baked in flaky pastry, crusted with toasted sesame seeds. I loved this and could have eaten a whole one by myself.
          - Spicy pig ears -- Served cold, thinly sliced, seasoned with a bit of heat. Chewy and tasty and, to me, unusual.
          - Pan-fried pork dumplings -- good
          - Casserole with minced pork meatballs, cabbage, mushroom, cellophane noodles. Very tasty. I will want this again when the weather is cold. A nearby table got the fish-head casserole and that looked good too.
          - Oyster pancake. Mr C loved this. I didn't try it.
          - Whole flounder, deep fried, with scallions and ginger. I loved this. Fresh, simple, well-prepared.
          - Sauteed snow pea shoots and leaves. Delicious. Simple and well-prepared.

          Dessert was a sweet red bean soup. Nice, but not exciting. It was a soothing end to the meal.

          The room is pleasant and attractive. At first I felt the tables were a bit crowded together, but once the food arrived, my senses were focused on the meal and the good company.

          The bill was about $78 before tip. A good value. We look forward to going back.

          1 Reply
          1. re: val ann c

            Val - A great report about our lunch. I agree completely about your assessment. Every dish (save for the Oyster Pancake which turned me off a bit due to its consistency) was excellent. Service was very friendly and accommodating even in light of the multitude of questions asked. I wish all authentic Chinese restaurants were so welcoming. I will definitely return and recommend others do as well.
            Val - Thanks again for orchestrating the meal.

          2. Based on your report I went there Sunday night with the wife and a friend. What great food! As good as anything in NYC Chinatown. An excellent addition to the Jersey shore area. It will be hard now to go back to our usual go to place for Chinese food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JerzeyShore

              Went there Saturday night. This place is excellent.
              Great authentic Chinese food, very good price.
              Dishes we orderd and liked:
              -Steamed pork bun was great
              -Taiwanese style fried chicken leg over rice
              -Taiwanese fried vermicelli
              -Lion Head casserole (giant meatballs in soup)

              My wife and I are born and raised in Hong Kong so we are picky with Chinese food in general. Most of the Chinese food in NJ are not worth spending the money for. We only good out when we have craving for Dim Sum. When it comes to dinner, there is really not much that would entice us to go out. 1-9 Seafood was good for a little while until the price mysteriously goes up and portion and quality go down. Wonder Seafood in Edison is solid but the location and interior is not good for us now that we have a 2-yrs old boy. Shanghai Park is another one we enjoyed and serve similar food as Bando.

              Don't know why I went into a rant, I guess my point is Bando is great and we will tvisit it frequently. :-)

            2. I just had another good meal at Bando.

              Again- Tendon and Sliced Beef cold apps- very good
              This time I tried the Beef Stew Noodle Soup- delicious

              I saw a great looking dish at the next table that I really want to try- Taiwanese Little Fish with Pine Nuts.

              1. Had the Seafood Chow Fun there...Excellent. The Squid, scallops, and shrimp were all cooked perfectly, and not the least bit tough.

                The house special lo mein was very good as well.

                Wish they delivered!

                1 Reply
                1. re: TedyB

                  I took my family for an early dinner tonight.

                  We had the winter melon soup, fried dumplings, taiwan style fried dumpling, noodles with meat sauce, chicken with garlic, beef with hot pepper, and ham w chinese cabbage over glass noodles. All in all I can add my own stamp of approval to all the others.

                  As for comparisons, let's start by comparing the noodles with meat sauce to the same dish at Shanghai Bun. Both places make the sauce very well, but the real difference is in the noodles. Shanghai Bun makes their own noodles and they are excellent, and my favorite way to have them is with the hot meat sauce (but the soups are also great).

                  Also I love winter melon soup and imo the one at Westlake is overall a bit better than the one at Bando. I'd have to say the same for the chicken with garlic.

                  But I think the real point is not whether they are better than other good, local choices, but that Bando is the real deal. Chinatown quality food at decent prices in a local place. I look forward to trying more things on the menu there.

                2. It seems like this place has closed. Had it heard it from a few people, and confirmed it again driving by last night. Too bad.

                  19 Replies
                  1. re: notspicyenough

                    Can anyone else confirm? That is horrible news!!

                    1. re: bgut1

                      It's been closed now for 2 1/2 weeks. There is a white sign on the front door that says "In Renovation." Sad to see them gone. I was there often and got to know the owners.

                      No warning, either. I had friends there the day before they closed and the owners said nothing to them about renovations or closing.

                      1. re: yummynj

                        this is a joke right? I hope they are really in renovation... how can great place like this close and crappy places like Crown Palace remain open for years. Ridiculous.

                        1. re: yCf

                          It's possible their business was just way down if my experience is any indication.

                          I really like the flavor of their sauces. Their spring rolls are the best. And the people are very nice. But the last couple times there were problems. They messed up my take out orders. Not a big deal since I liked what I got instead, though they did leave out a soup. But the entrees were skimpy in unexpected ways. Hardly any veggies in them, unlike most other places. And there was very little sauce, not enough to moisten even a little rice. Since that's where the flavor is, very disappointing. Consequently, we hadn't patronized them in a few months.

                          Last weekend I decided to try them again. Which is when I saw the sign in the window.

                          1. re: yCf

                            I'm just not sure a restaurant barely open a year needs to close for renovations, now 2+ weeks and counting. Especially since it took them quite a while to renovate before they opened, changing from Hunan House. Plus wouldn' t you put a message on your phone number? Now it just rings. I think they're gone for good.

                            But I'm also can't figure out why they'd but up a renovation sign either if they're not - what does that buy them?

                            1. re: notspicyenough

                              But I'm also can't figure out why they'd but up a renovation sign either if they're not - what does that buy them?

                              I'm only speculating as an observer of this thread, but have you considered the original owners have simply sold the location and there are new owners with a new business or concept going in it's its place?

                              1. re: fourunder

                                I drove by last night around 7:00. The lights were on in the kitchen and the sign at the street was lit. Don't know if that means anything.

                                Could there have been a fire in the kitchen, or something similar?

                                1. re: cantkick

                                  Good news!

                                  A fellow gourmand saw an SUV in the parking lot yesterday at Bando and decided to stop in. He walked up to the door and talked with someone who was working on the site who said that they were indeed doing renovations, including new flooring, and should be open in the next 2-3 weeks. The guy also said that the owners are still the same and that there should be an announcement in the paper (I'm assuming the APP) to announce their re-opening.

                                  1. re: highlandsnj

                                    Thank you for the great news! I, too, have been looking and hoping it was actually under renovation. Hunan House was a great restaurant (and sorely missed) but, Bando is also an excellent restaurant. Can't wait for the "Grand Reopening".

                                    1. re: Fancy

                                      I passed by the place earlier today and it seemed to be closed. Snow was all over the parking lot and the whole driveway was covered with snow. Despite we have some flurries today, the way it looked, the parking lot definitely has not been cleared for sometime. I know that Chinese New Year was on Valentine's Day, maybe they closed the restuarant for Chinese New Year? Can someone give me a clue??? I just hope that it is not closed down!

                                      1. re: HelenB

                                        It's been closed for a few months. A sign on the window said closed for renovations, but there has been no activity since the fall.

                                        1. re: cantkick

                                          Thanks for confirming! It is a shame since the food was good! Hopefully, there will be another good place!

                                          1. re: HelenB

                                            This is horrible news. The food was great and authentic. It's unbelievable that horrible place like Crown Palace remain open while this place go under.

                                            1. re: yCf

                                              You make a good point and I still say they were in league of their own. I think the problem was the quality was to high for the low price point. Great value for us but they could not sustain enough business in that drive by and hardly notice it location. And once you do spot it then no easy to turn around and head back.

                                              Crown palace survives because of the great location and their business model which is give them low quality cheap food at a cheap price.

                                              1. re: JerzeyShore


                                                You are right on about the part that once you spotted the place, you might have already passed and it is really a pain to turn around....

                                                Crown Palace is nicely located right next to the Asian supermarket and makes it easier to shop and eat in one location!

                                        2. re: HelenB

                                          I didn't have the time to drive in, but the parking lot was plowed today. Maybe they are getting geared up to re-open.

                                          1. re: taste test

                                            Taste test,

                                            I passed the place earlier and as you said, the parking lot has been cleared but there were no cars there. I tried calling and the phone kept ringing, there was not even a message. I really wonder if the place will not be back for business!

                                            1. re: HelenB

                                              Probably closed for good. I saw s real estate sign out front today.

                                              1. re: stickman731


                                                Thanks for the information! I need to venture further north to get my soup dumplings now.... : (