Bandu Restaurant in Middletown, NJ
A friend recommended Bandu on Route 35 for tasty noodles. The place was opened in Fall 2008 and it was my first time there a few days ago! The place is nice, modern but with an chinese flare.
I ordered stewed beef with soup noodles and boiled dumplings. The noodles were cooked just right and the beef was favorful! Actually, it may be hot for some people but I enjoy hot and spicy food! The boiled dumplings were good too, very home made! The menu has the basic American Chinese food but it also features some of the popular Taiwanese food Minced Pork on Rice, Scrambled Egg With Vegetables, Fried Baby Oyster Taiwanese Pancakes...I was also suprised to see that they offer the Shanghai Style long steamed buns and they also have the fried version! It is quite a popular dish in Shanghai and goes with spicy meat dishes. I think that it will take me sometime to try out many of the dishes and I surely have to take my husband or friends along to give better feedback but I will surely come back for the noodles and dumplings!
I just did take out again at Bando, and unfortunately it will be my last. And that is really a shame. Bando has a lot going for it. The sauces are wonderful. The menu has many items you don't see elsewhere. And the people are very friendly and accommodating.
So why the desertion? The negatives outweigh the positives. For example, the sauces, though great, are too skimpy. If you put the dish over white rice, the rice remains white. Nothing extra. I don't want the food swimming, but I do want to be able to sop it up in the rice. Also, there is a scarcity of vegetables in the dishes. Even when it is billed as "meat with green", there is just the one ingredient, and not much of that. I enjoy having a melange of ingredients, oriental or otherwise, to enhance a dish. Maybe their way is more authentic, I don't know, but it's not my preference. I'm sure if I said something they would be accomodating, but I don't think that should be necessary.
The fried noodles are horrible. I know, I shouldn't eat them anyway, as they are pure calorie junk food, but these are just bad. Probably they use a light oil to make them more healthful, but whatever they do, it makes them unappetizing.
But the final straw was that they messed up the order for the third time in a row. Once it was a misunderstanding due to the new menu, once they forgot to include a soup. But the last time they gave me a completely wrong dish. Tasty, but not what we wanted.
I would return to eat there in a group, as the food is tasty, interesting, and mistakes are easily correctable, but for takeout, there are other more reliable choices.
My DH and I went there last night for dinner. This was our third and possibly last time. We started with soup. I had egg drop (a favorite since childhood) and my husband ordered the pork with fresh noodle soup. Well, my egg drop had very little flavor and my husband did not get what he ordered. He got a soup with bok choy, tofu, and egg. No noodles or pork to be found! He ate it anyway. It was actually pretty good. For entrees I ordered Szechaun Chicken and he ordered mixed seafood and veg in an earthen bowl. Our dinners arrived and my entree looked like either sweet and sour chicken with broccoli or a version of Szechuan that I have NEVER seen and my husbands was simply HUGE. I think it could probably feed 2-3 people easily. Anyway, I start eating and the chicken has this really weird texture. It looked fried but wasn't crispy at all. It was actually mushy. After a few minutes, the manager (I think) came over and explained to me that the waiter had given me the wrong thing. It was actually fish and not chicken at all. So he offered to replace it with the correct dish. It only took about 3-4 minutes and he came out with the chicken and a fresh bowl of rice. As he is placing it in front of me, he says, "Here is your Hunan Chicken. I apologize for the mix up." I thank him and then tell him that I actually ordered the Sezchuan Chicken, not Hunan. Needless to say, he looked stricken. He offered to once again replace it with the correct dish but I declined. I told him it looked delicious. It was pretty good but like another poster said, there isn't very much sauce. My husband enjoyed his dish well enough but he would never order something like without sharing it with someone. All in all, a half way decent meal (despite the mix ups) but I don't know if that is enough for us to return.
The best part of the meal was the fortune cookie. Mine said "Fortune Not Found: Abort, Retry, Ignore?" I think it was a sign...
Looking at the comments posted by cantkick and tgran, I am not really motivated to go there for dinner! As my initial comment was based on the lunch that I had there, it was really nice. What I ordered were quite simple and I was alone(I guess that might reduce the chances of mistakes?) I was considering going there with a few friends for dinner…we will see and will surely report back if we decide to go!
Me too - it was so good that day I went for lunch!
Random Side Note: Change occurs all the time with chinese restaurants, after reading the Fortune Cookie Chronicles, it opened my eyes to so many factors related to chinese restaurants I never even considered, nothing in this world surprises me anymore.
it is surprising that the service is bad. I always thought the place is one of the better ones in regards to service. I had much worst service in China Bowl in Edison and 1-9 seafood near Woodbridge.
I found it amusing on the previous posts that the comment on the wrong dishes that they brought out was always, "it tasted good even it was the wrong dish". I guess despite bad service, the food is still good.
tgran, "mixed seafood and veg in an earthen bowl", like most authentic Chinese dishes, are meant to be shared. I can't imagine anyone trying to finish that by oneself.
As I said, other than the fried noodles, I could not complain about the flavor of the food. In fact, the scallion pancakes I had the last time, an extra they threw in, were the best I ever had. It was the other factors that tipped the scales.
But I don't want to say avoid the place. Others might not have a problem with what I felt were negatives. It certainly is better than most Chinese places around.
Sorry but I do not rate chinese restaurants by their fried noodles. I have been to Bando a couple of dozen times since they opened last year and maintain that they are by far the best Chinese place in Central Jersey, bar none. I have NEVER ONCE experienced a bad meal or poor service at Bando and everyone that we have sent there has had nothing but praise
for their experience ...
I had lunch in Bando last Thursday and I just love the beef noodles(I am not going to repeat how I felt, please refer to the above posting)! I agree with JerzeyShore that the service is good, even when I was served by a relatively new server(he told me that he was new). Things were served promptly and no mistakes on my order. Not sure if this helps, but I try to point at the number of the item I want while I am ordering, “just in case” if the server has difficulty in understanding the language, or that I am just talking too fast.
I've been here a couple of times with chinese friends. They always do the ordering, family style and I just sample everything. We were there for their Chinese New Year special in 2009 and everything was delicious.
As an American born Chinese person who has eaten authentic chinese food but can't speak the language, I'm really disappointed with all the American Chinese restaurants that offer the same greasy dishes drowning in brown sauce.
What I like about Bandu is that they offer authentic chinese dishes AND they have an English/Chinese menu of their authentic selections which means even a "juk sing" like me can order authentic dishes.
The lunch prices are very reasonable. The staff is courteous unlike many other chinese restaurants. Service is quick.
I highly recommend Bandu for anyone into authentic chinese food or adventuresome. Its best enjoyed with a group of people with the dishes shared family style. I'm not overly fond of meat and find they are a little skimpy with veggies and would order a vegetable dish to balance things out.
Its on the northbound side of Rt 35 just north of Apple Farm Rd. Its set far back from the road so you'll miss it if you're driving fast. Just slow down, I think its the 1st driveway after you pass Apple Farm Rd.