12918 Shops Pkwy., Ste. #300
Austin, TX 78738
The intersection of Highways 71 and 620 in the tiny town of Bee Cave has produced a gigantic amount of retail space in the last year in the form of two huge new malls. But the food side of this space explosion has thus far been rather quiet. Translation: where the hell are all those hungry shoppers going to eat?
Well, I think that Blue Bamboo, located across from the Galleria Mall would be a fine place to start.
This restaurant, opened in October of 2007 by Saigon refugee Co Bui and his wife Lan Tran is a kind of greatest hits of Vietnamese and Thai dishes mixed together. Lan does the cooking and she has a light and delicate touch. The food here is quite good.
We always begin with the Blue Bamboo Rolls. The Vietnamese style rolls are lighter than Chinese Egg Rolls yet have a very compelling flavor. Filled with angel hair noodles, black mushrooms, carrots, onions, ground pork and ground shrimp; they are wonderful either wrapped in or sans the accompanying lettuce leafs.
Now I am a tofu lover and the Tauhu Tofu does not disappoint. The fresh tofu is deep-fried and served with a Thai sweet and sour sauce. I love the relatively crisp texture. And the Satay skewers, offering either chicken, beef, or tofu marinated in Thai herbs and spices, are a great way to wrap one’s hands around Thai cuisine for the first time. I love the cucumber sauce!
No self-respecting Vietnamese restaurant would be without either Vermicelli Bowls or Pho: and Blue Bamboo has plenty of both. I have trouble getting away from the Pork and Rolls which combines rice vermicelli, bean srpouts, shredded lettuce, pickled carrots, crushed roasted peanuts and scallions along with grilled roasted pork chunks and egg roll slices. Combine a little Sriacha and fish sauces and toss! And I really am partial to the Pho Chin. Like all Pho, this begins with a boiling hot beef stock poured over fresh rice noodles, bean sprouts, chili peppers, and in this case, a tender brisket. This, to me, is Vietnamese penicillin.
And the Thai side is served again at Blue Bamboo with some killer entrée dishes. They make an excellent Pad Kee Mao here. The flat rice noodles blend beautifully with Thai chili, fresh basil, garlic, tomatoes, and for me, pork. I love the seared flavor of this dish. And eventually, trust me on this, you will order the Dancing Chicken. This comes out sizzling: one of those dishes that cause necks to crane as it passes by. But the taste surpasses the visual expectation. The stir fried chicken with fresh ginger, honey, lime juice and onions typically evokes cries of “let me have a taste” from everyone at your table. If you have a large group, take my advice and get two orders. And the Drunken Seafood is no less appealing. This is healthy, tasty, low in carbohydrates and flat out delicious. Shrimp, squid, crab meat, and fish balls are all wok-tossed with a variety of compelling veggies. Great lingering flavors in this dish.
Blue Bamboo is catching on in an area that has been starved for this kind of fare. Trust me: I live out there. And we seem to be making more than the occasional visit to this mom and pop restaurant.