Wow, dusting this one off! Bamboo Garden is one of Seattle’s classic vegetarian/vegan Chinese establishments and great for when you have that Chinese food craving that Portland can’t always hit – especially if you have time to hit up one of their tempting lunch combos. I was in town recently and stopped by with a friend and tried both the Szechwan Tofu Skin Hot Pot and Sweet & Sour Chicken. The Tofu Skin dish was chewy, saucey, and with just enough heat that I didn’t seek out additional hot sauce. If you haven’t tried tofu skin, aka dried bean curd, yet, I recommend you see what you’re missing out on! The Sweet & Sour Chicken were balls of soy chicken, battered, fried, and coated in a sweet, syrupy orange sauce. Can I repeat – sweet, battered, balls? Yes.
Heads up – the fortune cookies are not vegan.
Older Review –
November 10, 2007
Times Visited: 2
It seems everyone has their favorite Chinese food restaurant. Maybe it was the delivery you ordered while pulling an all-nighter in college or the place your family went to dinner on Sunday evenings. That tofu and broccoli, or fried rice you crave when hung-over, or stuck at home in the suburbs. For some of us, it was the most (assumed) veg*n friendly food we knew about when the path to vegetarianism started.
When it comes to Portland, my Chinese-food craving hearts, or taste buds, don’t belong to one restaurant. I’m sorry Vegetarian House, but the best Chinese food I’ve had in the Pacific Northwest so far has been in Seattle at Teapot Vegetarian House. It wasn’t the crappy wonderful Chinese food one might crave; it was practically classy in comparison. The closest thing to great I’ve had in Portland is Golden Jade on SE Belmont, which sadly does not deliver. Last winter, I went to Bamboo Garden and it didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but this time, I got it.
Bamboo Garden is a faux meat focused restaurant with tons of classics. You’ll find Chow Mein, Kung Pao ‘Chicken’, Sesame ‘Chicken’, Fried Rice, Hot and Sour Soup, Sautéed ‘Eel,’ and even Fried ‘Chicken Fingers’ – ironically familiar to those of us who may have been subjected to less than stellar buffets growing up. There are over 100 menu items, and this vegetarian restaurant is open to special dietary restrictions, “Ask your server for special dietary needs requiring special preparation, including no salt, no oil, no sugar, or other restrictions. Only the fortune cookies contain eggs.”. The restaurant is also certified Kosher. The restaurant uses tofu, soy products and mushrooms to create their faux meat features.
My partner and I shared our entrees – a hefty portion of ‘Chicken’ Chow Mein ($7.50) and smaller Sesame ‘Chicken’. While the chicken was obviously, and easily more identifiable as seasoned tofu strips, and more ‘pork’ like then chicken, it was still delicious. The tofu, noodles and vegetables were all thin, and bites were easily pierced and wrapped around a fork. It was a dish that 2, if not 3 people could dine on alone and something I’d order again and again. Lo Mein was one of my favorite Chinese food dishes growing up, and the Chow Mein was better than anything in memory. The Sesame Chicken ($8.95) can more aptly be described as chicken ‘balls’ – golden, fried nuggets with a soy protein center, coated in a sweet and sour sauce. Just picture that sweet crunch, and take a sip of water. The chicken balls were served in an edible potato nest, with rice and broccoli. It’s one of those dishes that you know is just awful for you, but you love anyway. Or, you hope your partner orders so you can steal a ball from him.
We also ordered the ‘Chicken Fingers’ – which were predictably greasy, but not bad, and the Spring Rolls. The Spring rolls were the low point of the meal. The filling tasted ‘old’, and I put mine down after a bite. I didn’t want anything else to do with it. On the plus side, it was cheap, and everything else contributed to a positive experience. Between the two of us, the bill was comfortably under $30, and that’s certainly not bad for a special dinner out in Seattle.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Address: 364 Roy St. Seattle, WA 98109