Bambu Noodle House
421 – 12 Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 1A5
Casinos are interesting studies for the foodie. In a society that increasingly emphasizes food, casinos, in theory, should be home to great restaurants. After all, it is in their best interest to keep you on the premises for as long as possible. However, restaurants don’t generally contribute to the bottom line of a casino – gaming does. So the dichotomy between wanting to keep you there, without giving up premium gaming space makes for some interesting results.
Bambu Noodle House is one of three restaurants open inside the new Stampede Casino. Positioned as a Pan-Asian noodle house that serves up the best in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisine, the theory is actually quite sound. Not meaning to stereotype, but a lot of Asians gamble. And Asians like Asian food. At all hours. Seems like a great fit. I myself am hoping for the equivalent of a Pho stand – simple, cheap, and tasty.
The space is pretty nice from a far – dramatic reds, backlit walls, high ceilings, polished concrete – it’s designed like a modern day bistro. On closer look, most of the finishing values are pretty cheap. Laminate. Cheap cloth. Exposed wiring. Nothing really grievous, but not as sexy as it first appeared.
I seat myself at the bar – and eventually am delivered a menu. The first thing i notice is things aren’t that cheap. appetizers run in the $6-$8 range, and entrees from $7-$14. The second thing i notice is how the line is setup – it’s 3 woks over high intensity burners, a deep fryer, a grill, and some steaming stock pots. Everything is stainless. It looks like a fairly efficient operation for one person to operate.
Looking at the stir fry “rice bowl” next to me, I decide to opt for the Pho. The stir fry actually looked pretty reasonable in the wok – it was heated very hot, smoking oil, quick cooking time. The ingredients did look a bit…sad though.
My bowl of Pho takes 20 minutes to deliver. A bit frustrating, especially for lunch, and somewhere that is relatively quiet (maybe 6 other patrons?). The first thing that comes out is the garnish plate. Oh dear. It did not bode well.
Yes, that’s it. I didnt eat anything before snapping the picture, which is in extreme close up to try and fill the frame – that was the extent of the sprouts, and basil i got. Four leaves, about 25 sprouts.
The Pho itself arrived long after the garnish plate, and was just as disappointing. The broth was a wonton broth. The noodles? Thin chinese rice noodles. The beef was cut thickly, and was the wrong cut of beef for Pho. There was broccoli in it. And the entire bowl? Really really bad. Tasted like dirty dish water. I ate the ingredients, took three sips to make sure i was tasting the same thing, paid and walked out. 35 minutes to get my order, 3 minutes to finish. Not the most flattering ratio.
That’s really all i have to say. Since that time, i noticed they’ve removed the Pho from the menu. But some other menu items havent changed. The prices have gone up, and a new Chinese emphasis is there. In theory, with the equipment they have there, they should be able to produce some good chinese. However, based on the quality of the ingredients, and the expertise of the staff, I have no hopes of this place ever producing passable food. I wouldnt eat here ever again. I’d rather eat a chocolate bar.