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Bamboo in East Norriton, modern szechuan cuisine

thehungrything Oct 9, 2013 08:36 PM

This place is serves excellent szechuan food. Menu standouts are the chicken szechuan dumplings in chili oil, cold tripe and tongue (husband and wife), bamboo tips in chili oil, curry lamb, twice cooked pork, chopped mustard greens.
The service is extremely friendly and attentive. The owners are from Cheng Du and on weekends most of the patrons are Chinese. It is BYOB. The interior is beautiful and tables and chairs are very comfortable.
We love this place and since we live close to it we are there once a week since we discovered it. It is hard to believe that something this good is in the old China Inn space!

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  1. thehungrything RE: thehungrything Nov 17, 2013 06:29 PM

    No replies! OK people, I know for a fact that there are many of you who live in the northwest suburbs on this very board and there are many fans of Szechuan cuisine. If you like or love Han Dynasty, you must try this place. It is different, they don't try to knock you out with heat but the heat is definitely there depending on the dish. The flavors are authentic and great. The service is fantastic despite the limited English skills of many of the staff. They are extremely attentive and the service is very fast, even when there are multiple large tables eating in the the dining room.
    You may not sound trendy if you say you went there but you will be a true foodie as this is the real deal!

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      obx_nancy RE: thehungrything Nov 18, 2013 06:18 AM

      where is Bamboo located? I work in East Norriton, this could be a dangerous for lunch!

      8 Replies
      1. re: obx_nancy
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        cwdonald RE: obx_nancy Nov 18, 2013 06:47 AM

        The address is 46 East Germantown Pike. Judging by the picture they are set back in one of the strip malls on Germantown Pike. They have a website

        http://www.bambooeastnorriton.com/

        1. re: obx_nancy
          thehungrything RE: obx_nancy Nov 18, 2013 09:34 AM

          There is a large strip mall on the corner of Germantown Pike and 202. The same strip mall where Bluefin moved to and where Aman's Indian Restaurant is located. Bamboo is in the space once occpied by China Inn but dont let that discourage you if you ever experienced that place. Bamboo is close to Starbucks in the strip mall and next door to Game Stop

          1. re: thehungrything
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            middleagedfoodie RE: thehungrything Nov 18, 2013 03:43 PM

            Just looked at the menu. It looks very interesting.

            1. re: middleagedfoodie
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              shoelace RE: middleagedfoodie Nov 19, 2013 01:18 PM

              i went a couple of weeks ago after reading the initial review

              we got there when they were closing, so we got takeout

              we got a spicy fish dish that i dont remember the name of, but it was delicious- spicy, but not overwhelmingly so, and not just spice, gingery and garlicky as well- it was also A LOT OF FOOD

              we also got something called sauted bok choy with mushrooms, that was also perfectly cooked and seasoned, i hate when bok choy is like slimy and smooshy, this still had a little bit of a bite to it

              my only complaint was the lack of an english speaker- or um, the lack of a person who actually spoke english as opposed to the woman who i thought was answering my questions, but really was just humoring me, bc i went home with no rice (i know many of these places dont default rice but i would have happily paid for and ordered some if i knew i had to) and i thought i was ordering something otehr than what i got

              where i was pleased with it, the person with whom i was traveling ended up runnign out to a drive through

              1. re: shoelace
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                givemecarbs RE: shoelace Nov 19, 2013 05:18 PM

                Thanks for the review shoelace. Did they close earlier than their posted time? That is a pet peeve of mine. Not twenty or ten mins earlier but fourty minutes annoys me.

                1. re: givemecarbs
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                  shoelace RE: givemecarbs Nov 21, 2013 07:00 AM

                  i didnt see their posted time, and when I called on my way out to ask, the woman on the phone didnt speak english

                  im guessing it was just closing time- bc in my experience, when places are trying to close earlya nd you come in wanting take out, stores are often rude abt it, they were really nice, just closing

                2. re: shoelace
                  thehungrything RE: shoelace Nov 20, 2013 05:10 PM

                  They can lack fluent English speakers at times. The dishes come with rice, white or brown. Strange that it was missing!

                  1. re: thehungrything
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                    shoelace RE: thehungrything Nov 21, 2013 07:06 AM

                    eh- i didnt need someone who would be able to teach me european history, ut someone who could answer if something was fried or stewed, if something was spicy or mala, if rice was included...

                    rice wasnt included AND the fish was spicy enough that it needed the rice

                    (it was also cooked in the sauce, not fried which was counter to what id been told)

                    what i was expecting, was something like this

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            mookleknuck RE: thehungrything Nov 27, 2013 06:56 AM

            Thank you for bringing this place to my attention, thehungrything. Informed by your report and having asking trusted others for their opinions, some of us went to Bamboo on a Friday night around 7 or 8PM for dinner about a month ago.

            TL;DR good flavors and large portions with a possible disconnect between the front of house and kitchen.

            As thehungrything mentions in this thread, Bamboo is in the Northtowne strip mall at the corner of Germantown and Dekalb Pikes, specifically in the strip that is parallel to Germantown Pike. It's a spacious, but dimly lit, space where we were not bothered by the sound of other diners. Most tables appeared to be families and I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity: East Asian, South Asian, white, Latino, black. Our twenty-something server seemed to speak decent English but better Mandarin and was later assisted by a forty-something woman who did not seem to speak much English. Service started off well, but attentiveness tapered off as the restaurant was closing.

            We ordered three standard dishes from the menu, fuqifeipian (the cold beef and tripe appetizer), lajiao niurousi (beef with green chili peppers), and Yangzhou fried rice, and two dishes from the specials that night, suancai xianyutang (pickled cabbage fresh fish soup) and douchi paigu (spare ribs with black bean sauce). The specials were only listed on a dry-erase board at the front of the restaurant in Chinese, but the younger waitress recommended the soup, while the older waitress recommended the spare ribs. I did not see them listed anywhere else or in English. The younger waitress specifically mentioned that the fish soup was very popular every weekend and made with fish filets. She repeated that there were NO bones when questioned in Mandarin. I saw only two other tables with soup tureens, but decided to take her recommendation any way.

            Very large portions appeared quickly with a huge bowl of white rice to share. The standards were fine, but nothing that I have to order again. It was the specials that really stood out. The large and tender spare ribs came with a very garlicky black bean sauce that had onions and red and yellow bell peppers. The sauce was tasty enough to accompany rice on its own, so much so that the waitress offered a refill on the rice.

            We really enjoyed the fish soup. I cannot praise highly enough its great flavor of sour and white pepper spice and capsaicin spice and fishiness and how it had the right proportion of pickled cabbage to fish. We loved how there were at least two halved fish heads and how the soup had that richness that comes from gelatin.

            HOWEVER. While we love whole fish and order it most of the times that we eat Canto or Sichuan, I was outraged that so many fish pieces were still covered in scales. Scales were also present throughout much of the bottom half of the soup. This made finishing the soup in the restaurant an impossibility (due to the restaurant closing) and finishing the leftover soup at home a very arduous task. I cannot strongly enough emphasize how careless this makes the kitchen seem to me. This has caused me to hesitate to return, despite how much I loved the flavors. I also thought it was very strange that the waitress would say, not once, but twice, that there were NO bones. Not only were fish heads present, but also many pieces with attached ribs and vertebrae that had obviously only been hacked and thrown into the pot. Twenty-four dollars is too much to pay for this kind of careless execution.

            So, while I loved the way the food tasted and thought the restaurant clean and the service fine, I do not know if I should return. Thoughts?

            2 Replies
            1. re: mookleknuck
              crazyspice RE: mookleknuck Nov 27, 2013 07:30 AM

              The presence of fish scales in the soup would be a complete turnoff for me and I would not return. Having grown up in a family of fishermen, I understand the process of prepping fish. It's truly not that difficult.

              1. re: crazyspice
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                mookleknuck RE: crazyspice Dec 2, 2013 11:05 AM

                Thanks, crazyspice. I continue to eat fish several times a week, usually at home, and I almost always clean them myself. I can't think of why scales would ever be included in soup.

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              Chefpaulo RE: thehungrything Dec 2, 2013 02:11 PM

              Based on your post, I had to try Bamboo, albeit under some time constraints that had me rely on the "Chinese/American" menu lunch specials (conveniently identified and under separate heading from authentic Szechuan) for a hurried overview as their first customer of the day. The wonton was meh and not hot enough (maybe due to my dining at 11:15), but that seems to be rampant these days. However, my benchmark is Kungpao chicken, which was in the top 10% of all I've had in the past few years. Unlike other places that load up on bell pepper, baby corn, chopped carrot and sweet goop, mine was solely coarsely-diced chicken, red chilies, scallions, peanuts and a few chunks of water chestnut in a carefully-balanced sweet sauce tossed in a very hot wok. Big points so far. So is the hardbound menu book with a photo of each dish served.

              i will be returning this Saturday with friends for a more relaxed and adventuresome lunch. The quick fried lotus root has been calling me and I know the dry pot ultra-spicy chicken wings will tempt our visiting iron-stomach college student. There is so much to explore and I am so glad to have dishes right down the road that I regularly sampled last in China.
              CP

              1. brandywiner RE: thehungrything Jan 9, 2014 11:13 AM

                Yesterday, I went to a late-afternoon movie in Ambler, and was looking for lunch beforehand. I remembered the mention of Bamboo, and decided to give it a shot.

                I started with my "go-to" app, dan-dan noodles. Bamboo's version seemed stronger in peanut flavor than others I've had, but still tasty.

                I also had the "Hot and Spicy Fish Filets". These were excellent, with tons of flavor, and a good mix of fish and veggies. (No bones or scales, btw.) I wasn't prepared for the huge portion, though. Since I wasn't going straight home, a fair amount went to waste.

                A note on spice: the fish filets were listed with 2 peppers on the menu. The dish as served was mildly spicy. But I noticed on the check the phrase "less spicy" appeared under the dish twice. I'm not a hardcore spice hound, but I'm guessing my preferred level of spice would be roughly midway between what I got and the "normal" level. Something to keep in mind for when I go back.

                1. bucksguy14 RE: thehungrything Jan 19, 2014 11:28 AM

                  I'll second chefpaulo's take on the Kungpao chicken. It's definitely the best I've found in that section of Montco. I did a take-out on my way home from Delaware the other night and also got some Hot & Sour Soup, which is one of my touchstones for an Asian restaurant. It's not the best I've had, but it's decent. Incidentally, I just walked in around 7:15 Saturday night, placed my order (the hostess spoke English, as did a female server and the runner from the kitchen - if that had been a problem there was a Caucasian server there also). I was out the door, in my car, at 7:27! Great service. I'll be back!

                  1. k
                    Kater RE: thehungrything Jul 5, 2014 03:46 PM

                    I can't believe that I missed out on this place for so long. That will teach me to wander away from Chowhound...

                    We just discovered Bamboo because I finally asked a Chinese friend how far I had to go to find decent food and she sent me there.

                    Bamboo shoots in chili oil are fantastic and so is the homestyle tofu!

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                      Adenn1 RE: thehungrything Jul 10, 2014 08:00 AM

                      I got some take out for lunch for the first time last week. I got the Kung Pao Chicken (on CP's recommendation) and the shredded pork in garlic sauce. Both were very good...and not your typical Americanized verisions with unnecessary vegetables added as filler. I will certainly visit them again...probably at night when I can try some of the other szechuan itmes.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Adenn1
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                        Chefpaulo RE: Adenn1 Jul 10, 2014 11:45 AM

                        I was just there today with a friend. I also had the Kung Pao but it wasn't the same as the first time when it was pleasantly charred and the sauce was less sweet. Very good, however. And I agree about the unnecessary baby corn, serrated carrots, celery wedges and chunks of bell pepper that come standard elsewhere (except Margaret Kuo's.)

                        I've now been to Bamboo six times and the $7.99 lunch special is a good deal for the quick bite. However, to truly dine on Szechuan cuisine, a table for eight willing to share the authentic menu items is the way to go.

                        As for the heat warning pepper symbols, one is plenty for me and two is mildly uncomfortable. I can't imagine what 3 and 4 are like but I'm glad there is a hospital across the street (or did that close?)
                        CP

                        1. re: Chefpaulo
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                          Adenn1 RE: Chefpaulo Jul 11, 2014 04:03 AM

                          Their sliced beef in spicey sour broth is listed as a 4...will stay away from that. Going to try taste of chengdu chicken and "blow your mind" chicken...both of which are listed as a 2. Will report how spicey these are.

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