The onslaught of CPEC may have a huge impact on the nation’s infrastructure and economy, but the largest effect it would inconsiderably have, will be on our culture. However, amidst a society that has always welcomed the Chinese influence albeit adapted to their palates, it really won’t be a big problem at all, it seems. Now, celebrating exactly that is the latest culinary experience to hit Karachi’s ever-popular E-street, Bam-Bou.
Opening up their second branch after the success of Bam-Bou on Sindhi Muslim, the restaurant boasts an experience par excellence, with their ‘sophisticated’ take at Chinese cuisine. However, does it hold true? That’s a whole different story.
Decked up in shades of black and red with a mix of Bamboo browns, Bam-Bou Clifton is reminiscent to almost every Pan-Asian restaurant that has mushroomed up in Karachi lately. The added attraction is a welcoming water feature in the front, which gives it a unique charm. Inside, it’s the same story of Oriental OTT-ness meets contemporary minimalistic Shanghai. That said, the ‘Gauche of the Orient’ is no new theme and can be forgiven.
Coming to food, it by no means gives out the same flamboyant feeling – which is a relief – and comprises a menu balanced between the main proteins of chicken, seafood and beef and a myriad of starters. Surprisingly, it manages to provide both the standard fare and the up-scale specials in one place. From the menu, we decided to go with the Wasabi Prawns, Crispy Mini Rolls, Sizzling Chicken, Hunan Beef and Lotus Fish to complement each palette, along with accompaniments of Singaporean noodles and Garlic rice.
Starting the culinary experience – their words, not ours – the service took close to 20 minutes to serve the food, which given its popularity and waiting list, is quite exemplary. However, what really wasn’t that commendable was the fact that they decided to serve us the mains and the appetizers, altogether. By then, we were already famished enough to not indulge in an argument and got straight down to the food.
So here’s the best part of the review – the dishes. Out of the approximately seven items that were ordered, three managed to make the mark. Whether it was the Crispy Mini Rolls that were stuffed with oriental-spiced minced meat, the mouth-numbingly spicy Hunan Beef or the umami-inducing Lotus Fish, all three items hit the high notes. On the other hand, the Sizzling Chicken was a major downer, and anyone who wants a taste of sizzlers from days gone by, should look somewhere else.
Over to the accompaniments, Bam-Bou could really do with better quality rice than what we were served. Dry and mealy, it really made us question how a restaurant that boasts Chinese cuisine can do such a thing. Having said that, we were just thankful the Singaporean noodles were a saving grace with their balance of spices and savoury taste.
Amidst all of the ups and downs of this meal, the last straw was drawn with the dessert. It’s a Pan-Asian restaurant with a boastful Chinese menu, so one would expect an oriental dessert experience, right? Wrong. At the end of the meal, we were recommended we order their Très Leches cake, which is a traditional Mexican delicacy. Now, albeit the taste was palatable, if this Mexican-Chinese dessert mix-up isn’t (con)fusion, then we don’t know what is.
With the meal ending, we asked ourselves if we’d try Bam-Bou again after the experience we had today, and we have to say we might just go solely for the Hunan Beef and Singaporean noodles.