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Bamboo [Oxford]

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This Korean restaurant opened earlier this year, right near the train station, in the old Cafe Coco location.

We'd tried it, perhaps unwisely, when it first opened. It was packed to the gills, and total chaos. Service was almost non-existent- we had to go track down a waiter to order our food. The food itself was okay. There was no ban chan; we ordered some kim chi. I remember the pajeon and bulgogi being a bit oily. Otherwise, as it was the only Korean in Oxford, I would have said it was only worth it if you were dying for Korean.

Last week, I came back from a work trip to Korea dying for Korean food. This was basically because the trip left me essentially with no meals that were not already scheduled, and most of it was spent trapped in a big hotel in a resort area, with the normal "international" buffet for meals. So I came back really wanting Korean food!

So we went to Bamboo. And I'm happy to say it has really improved. The service was much better- the staff spoke good English, they corrected an ordering mistake professionally, and the meal went well.

This time, they provided a couple of ban chan dishes, and we ordered a couple more. I had a tofu and seafood stew, which was very good- soft tofu, good amount of fish and seafood, good spicy stew flavour. My husband ordered the samgyetang (which I'd really wanted to try in Korea, but didn't get the chance to). They got this order wrong, and we waited a while before flagging someone down and explaining. They fixed it professionally and quickly: put the correct order in, took the wrong order off our bill and came back to update us on how long the order would be.

With the caveat that neither of us had tasted it before, the samgyetang was very, very good! I now *really* regret not trying it in Korea. The young chicken was cooked perfectly- easy to pick off the beautifully tender meat. The rice it was stuffed with was fragrant with ginseng, as was the broth. Most of all, I really liked the broth itself. It smelled so good, and tasted as good as it smelled. One minus point- it was a bit salty. And for me, who has a salt tooth rather than a sweet tooth, that is saying a lot.

Overall, a good experience at Bamboo, and it's now an option for when we want good food, not just when we must have Korean and can't wait until we next go to London.

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  1. Very interesting post - thanks! I walked past this restaurant during a visit to Oxford earlier this year, and was quite curious about the Korean food served there.

    Your samgyetang did sound over-salted indeed - most of the versions I'd had in Korea or elsewhere were in fact "under-salted", as table salt would be provided for the diners to season the soup according to their individual preferences.