Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Off the Eaten Path: Bamboo Garden in Bellevue

Thousands drive by it everyday, yet few venture inside. Perhaps the jewel in Seattle's Chinese food crown is Bamboo Garden, precipitously located next to a sketchy adult store in the shadows of Bellevue's condo-mania. Specializing in Szechuan cuisine this is the place to go if you can take the heat, although they do a fairly good job with the standards.

The true signs of an authentic Chinese restaurant are an old woman separating pea shoots at a vacant table in the bar and lots of people speaking foreign tongues eating things that most Americans would not recognize. Both can be found at Bamboo Garden, but they take the latter sign of authenticity to heart and provide a “Wild Side” page at the back of their expansive menu. Here you will find the specialties of the house; the Swimming Fire Fish in addition to Sour and Spicy Jelly Fish and the appropriately titled “The Other Parts of the Pig.”

Be sure to try the unctuous Green Onion Pancakes, Stir Fried Prawns in Hot Garlic Sauce with succulent, chunky bamboo shoots and a perfectly balanced sauce that provides just the amount of sweetness to counter the heat. Also not to be missed are the Spareribs Glazed in Tangy Ginger Sauce and Pineapple. These delicious jewels of goodness are popable and messy, but are well worth the cleanup.

The ambiance is adequate with lots of wood and bamboo accents. Service is hit or miss. Frequent communication breakdowns will occur and your food will come out from the kitchen out of order, but the food is ultimately what you are worth it. See for yourself if Bamboo Garden is what many call the missing link in the Chinese food chain between San Francisco and Vancouver. We seem to think so.

Bamboo Garden
202 106th Place Northeast
Bellevue, WA 98004-5723
(425) 688-7991

** This post also runs on the Seattlest blog site as part of the new Off the Eaten Path feature that will cover affordable, independent food businesses that most people don't know about.

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