Blue Bamboo Viet Thai Grill Restaurant
Reviewed by Claudia Alarcón, Fri., June 4, 2010
Blue Bamboo Viet Thai Grill Restaurant5900 Slaughter, 288-8688
Although the sign labels this eatery as Viet Thai, the family that owns Blue Bamboo is Vietnamese, and the dishes from their homeland really shine. The space is comfortable and clean, the service friendly, and delivery is available through ATX Delivery (see "ATX Delivery.") Although basic Thai staples such as pad thai and curries are represented, the Vietnamese dishes are among the best I've tasted, freshly prepared and artfully presented, with care and love evident in each plate arriving at the table. From the simple, standard fare, these folks serve one of the tastiest bowls of pho ($6, small; $6.50, large), with all the proper garnishes of herbs and vegetables and a satisfying, extra-clear broth. The combination fried rice ($10.50, dinner) was a heaping serving of delicious rice with shrimp, pork, chicken, beef, traditional peas and carrots, and the freshest omelet slices I've ever had in a fried rice. Neither greasy nor crunchy, this version of a simple dish elevates it to a new level.
Since I'm always on the lookout for unique new dishes, we tried the Nem Nuong appetizer ($8): small balls of ground pork and shrimp seasoned with salt, pepper, onions, and a bit of rum, then grilled on skewers and served with fish sauce. These savory delights are so addicting I could eat them all day. But there are so many other interesting menu items, beginning with the funniest, most bizarrely named dishes I have ever seen. The traditional Vietnamese rice plates – all served with steamed rice, fresh lettuce, cucumber, tomato, pickled carrot strips, and fish sauce – have names like Cyclone Driver, Jumping Shrimp, and Twin Sensation, but we picked the Seasonal Secretary ($9.99), topped with sliced grilled chicken breast marinated in a savory-sweet sauce. We also enjoyed the Silent Mistress ($10.50, lunch; $13, dinner), a refreshing and slightly spicy salad of shredded lettuce topped with slices of grilled New York strip dressed with lime juice, chile, cilantro, onion, toasted rice, and fresh mint, with steamed rice on the side. Next time I'll try the Spicy Landlord vermicelli bowl ($7), topped with stir-fried chicken, chile, and lemongrass. In addition to the classic Thai coffee drinks, the kitchen here makes tropical fruit slushies and shakes, there's a full bar, and even TVs tuned to sports. This could be my new favorite Vietnamese eatery in South Austin.
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