Bambu Asian Cuisine was a pleasant surprise for reviewer Small Town Girl Foodie World while on the road.
Editor's Note: This review originally appeared on the blog Small Town Girl Foodie World and can be found here in its original version.
A few weekends ago we went to a surprise party in Houghton. Everywhere on the main strip was packed, since it was a Saturday night, there was a home hockey game, and let's be honest, the many, many Tech students. We went up through town past the bridge, and decided to stop at Bambu Asian Cuisine, that I didn't even know was there because from the outside of the front of the restaurant, it doesn't even look like a restaurant. Although it does have a great weird industrial kind of architectural detail, but other than a sign by the parking lot entrance, there was no sign on the actual building that I could see. The lot was also packed, but the wait was supposedly only 15 minutes long and we were already running behind. Lucky for us, we only waited about five minutes and were seated.
For an appetizer, we ordered the steamed dumplings. I don't know what my deal is lately but I have been on a dumpling kick at every Asian place we've been to. They are filled with ground pork and vegetables and are made in-house. The side sauce was a spicy garlic ginger soy sauce. The dumplings were very good, and I will be attempting to recreate the dipping sauce because it was packed with garlic and ginger.
My husband ordered the orange chicken. What I like here is that you get a lot of food, but the way that they serve it to you makes it feel like a beautiful plate of food, rather than a trough that you scarily shovel food into your mouth from. The chicken was very good, with a light breading on the outside. There was a great kick from the peppers in the sauce and a pronounced orange flavor, which, funny as it may seem, you usually don't get when you order orange chicken elsewhere.
My main course came out and was beautiful. I ordered the chicken pad thai, filled with onion, carrot, egg, and bean sprouts in a pad thai sauce and topped with chopped peanuts. The peanuts gave the dish a great crunch and the sauce (which I ordered at an elementary spice level) had just enough kick. The bowl doesn't do the size of this dish justice. This is not a normal soup bowl....it is like a dinner plate, that someone has curved all of the edges on. I ended up taking half of it home with me, which I am not complaining about because it made great leftovers!
My only negative comment about this place, other than the fact that they could use a sign up higher on the building, is where the waiter and waitress station was located. On the first floor, in the middle of the room, and I mean literally in the middle of the room, is the station. We happened to be sitting right across from it so I got to watch the chaos that was the staff (and completely not their fault). There were almost collisions from people not being able to see around the station and four people trying to fit in a space made for one person, just to get to the kitchen or the other side of the restaurant. There are scuff marks all around this thing where you can tell people have had to quickly move out of the way and ended up briefly as part of the wall, or just plain walking into the thing. It is the strangest set-up I've ever seen. I'm sure when it was put there they had the thought process of "it's in the middle of the restaurant and conveniently located," but it is more of an accident waiting to happen.
The restaurant is beautiful on the inside, the noise level for a Saturday night was pretty tame and the food was delicious. Some of the best Asian cuisine I've had in the U.P. so far. If you can find it (or if you live here and know where it is; us persons from out of town had slight difficulty), it is worth the stop!