Green Bamboo, Re-visited

Way back in September 2009, I wrote a post on Green Bamboo Vietnamese Cuisine. Since then the owner/chef has been continually tweaking his menu with new and delicious items. As Green Bamboo has become my favorite local, I thought it deserved an updated post.

Green Bamboo is located on Willingdon Avenue, just south of Kingsway in Burnaby. They are street-level next to the ever popular Han Ju Tofu Hot Pot. The room is quite small, usually steamy and plastered with droolworthy photos of their dishes. Last summer while I was outside checking out the pics, the owner came out and promptly recommended the Grilled Pork Vermicelli Rice Bowl. Turned out to be a fantastic dish. For the last year or so I’ve slowly been making my way through the quite large and varied menu. I have my standbys, but there’s so much more…

On one visit, as I was settling up, I noticed a fellow diner being served a particularly colorful bowl of soup. My friendly server (the owner’s wife, I think) pointed out the item on the menu wall.  Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Noodle Soup. You get a choice of egg or rice noodles. Several big chunks of very tender lemongrass-infused chicken in a slightly thickened, turmeric-laced chicken stock. There’s a big whack of peanuts and garlic along with scallions, leaf lettuce and a slab of tomato. As with all the soups here, you get a heckuva portion.

More often than not, I discover the new soups here by word of mouth…the owner’s mouth. He is unabashedly proud of his food. And as he knows I’m always looking for a great bowl, he tips me off when there’s a new one. This is his House Special Beef Noodle Soup.

As per usual, this bowl is loaded with beef. All of the dishes here are always top-heavy on the meat. Whether it’s a vermicelli bowl, phở, beef stew or chicken soup, you always get your money’s worth. The highlight here, though, are the noodles. These are thick, chewy, toothsome and hand-cut. As good as, if not better than, Lao Shan Dong’s and pretty close to Peaceful Restaurant’s.

This guy makes a terrific Bún bò Huế. A very rich, deep stock screaming with lemongrass and chile. Vietnamese ham, tender brisket, beef balls and even the requisite pig knuckle. A good, healthy whack of cilantro and scallion made this one of the best I’ve come across.

The latest addition to the menu is Bún riêu . The thickened, creamy stock is made from crab paste, tomato, garlic, onion and egg. Accessories include fresh basil and bean sprout, scallion, chunks of tomato and sliced mushroom. As I’m not huge on seafood-based soups, this one isn’t my favorite. Although, the sweet and sour tomato broth was very good.

One of the best things on offer here are the homemade dumplings.

At $15 for a bag of fifty, this is tremendous value. They offer a variety but the best are the Pork and Prawn. Ground pork, chunks of prawn with water chestnut and scallion in a very well made wrap.

Once home, I drop eight or ten of ’em in boiling water for about 6 to 7 minutes. While waiting, I concoct the dip.

This is basically an eyeball job. I mixed up some sesame oil, Chinkiang vinegar, sriracha, sambal oelek and a bit of hoisin. Not your basic black vinegar/shreds of ginger, but it jacks up a dumpling nicely.

You’d think that a “Vietnamese” restaurant that offers up such varied cuisine would eventually fall short. As far as I can tell,  in over a year and dozens of meals, that hasn’t come close to happening.

Green Bamboo Vietnamese Cuisine (Crystal Mall) on Urbanspoon

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13 responses

  1. The pictures do the wonderful descriptions well! Definitely gonna check this place out, the soups look really flavorful and well made.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    • Karl

      Hi Shoku, make sure you bring a big appetite. He tends to go heavy on the meats and loads on the noodles…the spring rolls are extra large. Don’t forget to grab a sack of the dumplings. The Pork and Prawn are exceptional. Looking forward to your post.

      November 20, 2010 at 1:02 am

  2. Noted. I think I might even go off the grid and try something not shown on your post. Risky?

    November 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm

  3. Karl

    Nothing’s risky that I can think of. Enjoy!

    November 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

  4. Ok, where is this place? I went to the mall today seeking it out but gave up early as it was too cold outside. Instead I went to the foodcourt. 🙂

    November 22, 2010 at 11:41 pm

  5. Karl

    :)…lol. I was there at noon yesterday! It’s on the outside of Crystal Mall on Willingdon two doors south of Han Ju Tofu Hot Pot. How was the food court?

    November 23, 2010 at 7:56 am

  6. Wow, if I had found the place we probably would have run into each other! I think I saw the hot pot place and went the wrong way. I think I know where it is now. Food court meal was some simple noodles as I needed some hot soup to warm up…

    November 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

  7. LotusRapper

    Karl – I went to GB for the 1st time today. Had the House Special Beef Noodle Soup. Wow. Was it ever good ! Nice, sophisticated, deep & rich broth (I detected star anise and cinnamon). Tender, HUGE chunks of stewed beef. Chewey, al dente noodles sensuously teas my palate. Chopped coriander and green onion cover the soup like lily pads on a lake. Whew. For only $7.

    I’m going back there again next week. And possibly the week after. Quite intrigued about this grilled lemongrass chicken noodle soup too.

    Bon appetit,
    LR

    January 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    • Karl

      Wow, LR! You make it sound even better than when I had it! Great description. Sounds like he’s brought it up a notch or two. I remember the broth as very good but not having a huge amount of depth. Need to give it another go.

      Glad you went for an out-of-the-ordinary choice. Think you’ll like the Lemongrass Chicken soup. Another great one is the Pork & Shrimp Wonton Soup. The pho is excellent. Beats everyone in town, by a mile.

      It’s really amazing considering it’s a one man show. After two years of visits I’m always in awe of the quality, quantity and above all, consistency.

      Let me know when you plan on lunching there. Be great to share a meal.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:39 am

  8. LotusRapper

    Well I hope I didn’t embellish my review, but Thursday was just a really really cold and wet day. That bowl of noodles sure hit the spot at the time.

    Unfortunately we (with 3 other colleagues) had a bad service day. One colleague had to go back to office for a 1pm meeting. She was first to arrive at the resto at 12:05 and promptly ordered. By the time the rest of us arrived around 12:20, her pho was still not ready despite her telling the server she needed to eat first and leave. Even after the rest of us ordered and another 10 mins gone by (now 12:35) she still hasn’t gotten her food. Finally, at 12:40 she gets her food but now she needed it packed up to bring back to office 😦

    To the server’s credit, she offered to make our in-a-hurry colleague a brand new bowl but only when the remaining 3 of us are ready to leave (first colleague now left restaurant) so that it’ll be piping hot and fresh.

    Moral of story, during lunch rush it seems the kitchen staff isn’t able to keep up with the volume. I did see two guys in the kitchen, tho’.

    Yeah I’ll be back there sometime in the next two weeks. Will alert you and “Uncle Ben” 🙂 BTW, seems like over at Food For Buddha we are in the midst of arranging a chowdown at Crystal food court in near future.

    January 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

    • Karl

      Oh, yeah. Forgot to mention the lack of speed issue ;). I’ve become accustomed to waiting awhile even if I’m the only one there. If the food was average I’d probably look elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s part of the deal. Sorry to hear your colleague had to wait over 30 minutes. That’s unacceptable.

      Looking forward to the chowdown. Which locations were you all looking at?

      January 23, 2011 at 12:55 am

      • LotusRapper

        Haven’t talked to Ben about it yet, but this place (Chao Shou Wang/炒手王)is new, so it’s primo target

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/759463

        😀

        January 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm

  9. LotusRapper

    Forgot to insert the link:

    http://www.foodforbuddha.com/

    January 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

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