We often lament about how bad the Asian food in Portland is, and although Bambuza didn't knock it out of the ballpark, we really enjoyed our dinner and will most definitely be back to eat our way through their menu, especially since their happy hour is stellar and a little known secret.
At first glance Bambuza's menu looks a lot like another generic Vietnamese restaurant with the typical baguette sandwiches, rice and noodle bowls, soups, salads and fancy cocktails. However, we thought Bambuza's menu had quite a few truly unique Vietnamese dishes we love.On a hot humid summer evening we arrived to a nearly empty restaurant, but we weren't bothered because the happy hour menu was insanely cheap! We ordered two signature cocktails, which were so good we tipped the waitress extra because she not only was our waitress, but the bartender of our delicious hibiscus cooler and cucumber martini.
Bambuza's summer rolls seemed like stripped down salad rolls with only lettuce and bean sprouts, normally a miss in our book, but the summer rolls were filled with shredded coconut, a nice twist. The papaya salad was perfectly lightly dressed with lots of basil, the added touch of fried shallots was another nice touch. And the peppered calamari was savory and light, a great portion for a great price.
After polishing off our appetizers we dove right into our entrees. The drunken chicken was a safe bet, nothing special and no we wouldn't order it again. The chicken was a bit dry, but the option of brown rice was nice.
The true star of the night was the Da Nang Tumeric Noodle Soup or Mi Quang. This dish knocked our socks off. Not only is it a rare dish to find on most menus, Bambuza's was terrific. The selection of minced pork, shrimp, fishcake in a big ol' bowl of sauce (not really a soup) with lettuce, jicama and sesame rice crackers was fantastic. You bet we lifted the bowl and slurped up every last drop of that broth.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Bambuza and once the south waterfront area gets built up and there's access to the river, as well as better access to the area where the restaurant is (getting there from the east side is a whole other story), we'll be back. Again, Bambuza isn't anything super special, but do we wish we had a Bambuza Vietnamese Bistro in our neck of the woods - you betcha!
Bambuza Vietnamese Bistro
3 Locations all on the west side - Tanasbourne, South Waterfront, and Tualatin