Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Bamboo Room (Balaclava) 01/2012
Balaclava Rd is an area full of character with a great variety of shops catering particularly for an ethnic mix of Russians, middle Europeans and established Australians. There is a thriving coffee culture and a good variety of restaurants. Not long ago one that I especially liked, Wallah, closed. It has reopened with new tenants as a refurbished Chinese restaurant. Previously Chef Tina and front of house man, Danny, had this as a 23 seat restaurant in Collingwood. They've now finding their feet in an entirely different environment and in a much larger venue. It's a different sort of community and tastes are different too but they are serving food which has a lot to be said for it anywhere. The menu is not large but it has good variety.
We started with home-made chicken dumpling. There is a choice of chicken, beef, pork, prawn or veg (steamed or fried) black vinegar, sesame, chilli oil, garlic, coriander sauce (10pcs) $10.00. There are dumplings and dumplings. Most look good but the combination of really good pastry, well balanced and tasty flavours with the freshest of ingredients is hard to come by. Here they got it just right. A second entree, smoked salmon tart with avocado, radish, sriracha, ginger and soy dressing (4pcs) (gf) came in pretty little gold plated pots. We had ours without the sriracha which is a hot Thai chili sauce. This made it a little bland but their freshness and textures shone through.Bamboo room crispy pork loin in sweet sour sauce, chicken breast was an option, shredded bamboo shoot, ginger, spring onion, picked carrot, coriander (gf) $21.00 was a great surprise. The sauce was light with just the right level of sweetness and tartness, the pork, in a genuinely crispy butter, a delight and it was a good size serve too. A great dish. Braised whole New Zealand flounder spring onion, garlic, ginger and soy dressing ($28.5)turned out to be a HUGE New Zealand sole. I had ordered flounder and was disappointed to be served this fish which is only like flounder in shape but the flesh is quite different, being coarser and less delicate in taste. We managed less than half of it but were pleased to take the rest home. To end on a sweet note we had green tea crepe and guava ice cream ($11.50) This interesting dessert had the crepes stuffed with bean paste which worked well. The restaurant is clean and attractive, serves are large and very tasty. Chairs comfortable so it is nice to spend time eating there however the service left something to be desired. It was exceptionally slow because everything was cooked from scratch and not pre prepared. Our waitress was pleasant but clueless. She took a seat at the table with us to explain some of the items on the menu which I can not recall ever happening before.
They are awaiting a license but accept BYO with corkage $3.
Not expensive, at 302 Balaclava Rd., this is another fine addition to the street.