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  • alannamichaelweddi

Blue Bamboo

It was a tall order on short notice, but I was in!

The Chef Knows Doug

At 11:30 am on a Friday, my boss Doug calls me from his house. "Hi, I have a business lunch today at Blue Bamboo and I won't be able to make it. It's in 15 minutes, can you go?" Like Spiderman, ready to drop everything and fight crime, I ditched my desktop and grabbed a fork and knife.

It would truly be criminal to leave a business lunch unattended, especially when their fearless leader was going to be MIA.

Doug goes to Blue Bamboo once a month. He hosts a small group gathering for the Jacksonville Business Professionals. They know him there. They have his table ready, and Chef Dennis Chan knows him well.

Exterior of Blue Bamboo, photo by Rey C.

Sitting Pretty on San Jose

This place made me curious. Would it be like Bento and Pei Wei, but with a fancier feel? I had to find out. The former location on Southside was intriguing, despite its run-down state. The architecture, the blue pillars, these whispered to me. It had a lush Pan-Asian vibe that makes you wonder about what once was.

The new location on San Jose was only 12 minutes from work. The new building also oozed curb appeal, though rather than a traditionally-themed Asian restaurant, it was boxy. The decor is modern, with severe square edges accented by sexy architectural circles. What can I say, the design appealed to me. A lot. The look was so posh it should've been sitting next door to Prati in Town Center, especially the rectangle window and circular side doorway.

Interior of Blue Bamboo, the Bar

Once you walk through the round wooden doors, you continue to explore the sleek look of the restaurant. The dining floor feels expansive and open. With the large seating area, I'd be curious what their evening rush is like. I don't remember hearing music, but a lower volume is good for not having lunch conversations interrupted.

There are strong lines with black, white and red decor. It's transportive and slightly playful in its sense of style and sophistication. Across from the dining area is a long bar inviting passersby to perch for a quick meal or a long and leisurely happy hour.

Party of Ten

Chef Chan greeted me as I walked in. I slipped into my seat in the nick of time, giving Doug's apologies and regards for his absence. I knew I might be a second-rate replacement, but I put my networking hat on and got to know his compadres. The finance-facing flock of attendees welcomed me and we quickly jumped into following our lunch agenda.

Special Delivery from Waiter Roomba

Soon I encountered my next surprise, robots delivering food. Like I was in Star Wars, or a hip part of Tokyo, an electric tray robot thing was zipping between tables. Seeing the waiter Roombas was quite a treat.

Our non-android server was great, managing quite a few tables for the lunchtime rush. She had a party of ten, other tables, and still kept my Diet Coke happily refilled. My lunch neighbor ordered an iced tea that arrived with an enormous whiskey-sized tea ice cube immersed in the glass.

Dish Inedescision

I began to peruse the menu and found myself torn between the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad, Hoisin Chicken Lettuce Wraps (a huge hit back when I worked at Houlihan's), and the Red Curry Chicken Combo.

Blue Bamboo Menu

I heard a lot of people at the table order the Szechuan Bowl. The bowl was very popular and looked like just the right amount of food for busy business lunch-goers.

There was a dry curry noodle lunch dish that sounded interesting but only came with tofu or shrimp. I was tempted. The apps looked enticing. Many reasons to return. I knew I would hit a slam dunk if I did Crab Rangoon and Potstickers, but I needed to stay focused and get a real lunch.

There was a coconut milk dish that was also intriguing but if I was going that way I should definitely go full force and get the curry. And so I did. I am a sucker for Thai and coconut curry dishes, and just couldn't resist.

Can't Resist the Curry

Now they didn't ask for the spice level I wanted, but that's probably good. I would have tortured myself a bit. We weren't given chopsticks, which was a little sad, but I didn't ask so that's on me.

Red Curry Chicken Combo

My combo came with a cute little spring roll, that tasted much fresher than those dry, leathery old spring rolls you might get at a takeout place. The chicken curry here was great with everything tasting fresh and flavorful. The bok choy was a bit of an unfamiliar food for me, but it worked really well with the dish. My sauce was milder, sweet, and perfectly poured over my veggies and chicken.

Certain details made the experience stand out. There was a table full of chocolate treats by the door. Curious. Real napkins (linen maybe), with white with gray stripes, added a clean, welcome feel to the table. The glass dishes the food was presented on included blue and white china with ornate designs. Just like Kickbacks, I love places with a theme that is executed well. Blue Bamboo has a theme, and even better, delicious food!


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