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August 02, 2011

Alice Eats: Bamboo Hut

1130 North Avenue, Burlington, 658-4148IMG_2591

I rarely review a place in its first weeks of life. Usually, it's only fair to give it a month or two to let it get its footing. In the case of Bamboo Hut, no such courtesies are necessary.

I ate there for the first time last Monday, just days after its opening, it was clear the place had sprung into being fully formed. I returned Sunday, and feel ready to share the love.

The North Avenue space might look familiar. I've reviewed two other restaurants there, Phuong's Kitchen and more recently, Wild Bill's Western BBQ. From the start, the building has belonged to Phuong Lam, who opened Bamboo Hut with her boyfriend Nguyen Vo.

IMG_2607 A caveat: Unless you're me and don't mind slightly sticky tablecloths and an owner who only remembers to bring chopsticks for one of a party of two, this is not a date night destination. I, however, am me and like the ambiance. Lots of other folks seemed to prefer takeout, evidenced by a steady stream of customers picking up throughout our meal. Their loss. They missed Vo's delicious homemade iced tea.

As much as I loved the food at Phuong's Kitchen, I think it may be even better at Bamboo Hut. The menu includes a similar emphasis on egg rolls, with four different varieties, available in orders from four rolls to 36.

I tried the combo, which included crab-rangoon-like "tiger rolls," herbaceous ground chicken, lemongrass-marinated whole shrimp and classic Vietnamese cha gio. The latter was the most exciting of the bunch, with a strong flavor of ginger and a hint of cilantro.

IMG_2608 My standard order when trying a new Vietnamese restaurant is bun thit nuong with cha gio. The noodle salad tells me everything I need to know about a place.

This one (right) was filled with wonderfully fresh veggies — lettuce, cucumbers and bean sprouts, with nary a brown spot. Ample cilantro and basil lent plenty of flavor on their own, but the tangy, mildly spiced, carrot-and-daikon-filled nuóc cham sauce filled the dish with a vinegary zip.

Then there was the pork, long marinated in lemongrass and almost fork tender. There was barely any excess fat. This is Vietnamese food for people who think they don't like Vietnamese food.

IMG_2611 For those who really don't like Vietnamese food, there are Thai and Cambodian dishes, too. We tried a bowl of yellow curry, though red and green ones are available as well. The bowl overflowed with potatoes, carrots, onions and chicken, all ready to be spooned over a mound of rice.

Of course, no matter how fresh and tender the vegetables and meats, a curry is nothing without its sauce. This one was rich enough to recall Indian korma. The thick coconut sauce tasted of curry, but it wasn't the star.

The sweet flavor of coconut, mixed with basil, was almost worthy of a sophisticated dessert. Maybe that's why we didn't order the fried banana or mango sticky rice. They, along with pho and ginger chicken, are on my to-do list for next time.

Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to [email protected]

We ordered from there and it was awful! We love pho hong and were hoping for another option closer to our house. The pho was flavorless and the meat tough and almost black, the bean sprouts were rotting and we werent given lime, basil or cilantro. The other two previous restaurants were also not good. Are youbeing lenient because the NNE has no restaurants?

Ordered take out from this restaurant for lunch and it was DELICIOUS! The ginger chicken was full of bright, fresh, crispy vegetables, a delicate, well spiced sauce and lots of tender chicken. My friend ordered the egg rolls and his container was overflowing! He raved about them! The presentation of both dishes was lovely, even in in the take cartons!!

The folks who own, manage and cook at this restaurant were warm and welcoming, from the time we stopped in for a menu, placed our order and throughout our short wait for food. Prices are excellent and portions huge!

This restaurant and the the folks who own and run it, are a lovely addition to the NNE. I will definitely be returning to Bamboo Hut to sample more of their delicious offerings!

My husband and I LOVE this place!! The food is excellent every time we get it and we are hooked on their spring rolls! The pad thai is good too, not as good as Tiny Thai, but still good

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