Recently opened “Bamboo Garden” serves the stomach and soul
With my craving for Chinese food, I rarely miss a joint that claims to offer authentic cuisine from the Far East. I am picky too as my taste buds act difficult unless pampered with right taste. Last summer, an old house on the busy Alagar Koil Road (opposite Eco park) undergoing renovation caught my attention. Six months ago its bamboo fencing and a hoarding announcing the arrival of “Bamboo Garden” signaled delight. Within a week, I checked out the menu and returned supremely satisfied after a bowl of Jade spinach soup. Off and on, I dropped in for a quick bite of either a starter (my favourite dragon chilli mushroom and golden fried babycorn) or a plateful of noodles. Deep down I felt assured that yes, this by far is the best place in town to eat Chinese.
A bare bones kind of a place, I liked the minimalist and down-to-earth ambience where one can enjoy alone, with friends or on a leisurely date, go for family dinner or a quick business lunch.
Over the months, ‘Bamboo Garden' started getting jammed during peak lunch and dinner hours and I sensed food was picking up here. The feel-good factor multiplied with the surprise information that it was owned and run by Temple Town's famous and the First Family of textiles-- the Hajeemoosas.
After several visits to try out something new each time, when I finally decided to make it official for writing this column, young Zaid Omar -- the Director of Hajeemoosa Fabrics -- was gracious enough to join me for lunch and tell the story of his family's dream project. I left it to him and the Chef to choose their best menu for the afternoon. The seasonal chilled and sweet water melon juice arrived in a jiffy and it was so refreshing that I decided to skip the soup. Zaid was partial to Tom Yam Chicken Soup.
Crunching on the chicken croquette and crispy chilli baby corn, he shared how his “Chinese freak” family always relished the best of Chinese cuisine in Bangalore. I couldn't agree less.
The family initially bought the property with the idea of starting an exclusive men's store. Though known for their century-old textiles business and having run a popular joint “Wang's Kitchen” in Kodaikanal for 15 years, the family toyed with a medium investment plan of giving Madurai a “good quality Chinese restaurant”.
They brought half-a-dozen chefs from Chennai, with the right know-how who actually cooked 250 different types of Chinese food in their house for a month.
“I, my parents and brother would taste new items everyday and finally it was a collective decision to make a menu of 100 items that range from common to unique,” Zaid spells out. Our table got filled up with food that arrived hot and in generous proportions and looked so very fresh. I started my meal with exceptionally tasty golden fried onion and mushroom fried rice and Singapore Chilli noodles. The stir fried exotic Chinese greens served as an excellent side dish. I immersed myself in the food and soft Chinese instrumental music.
“I downloaded tons of it to be played here. Mom and I also wanted the décor to be simple but effective --- the chairs were brought from Pune, Chinese alphabets on glass panels for the wall and the red lanterns we felt would be just appropriate and enough for a 46-seater restaurant” -- I let Zaid continue in between his five-coloured fried rice, Calamari and sweet ‘n' spicy chicken.
The food was simply yummy and cooked perfectly. I was conscious that I was stuffing myself but still I did not want to stop eating. It was that good. Most importantly, it did not leave me with that “greasy” feeling so typical of Indian Chinese food available elsewhere.
I topped off the meal with yet another favourite, fried ice cream and asked Zaid whether Bamboo Garden had finally taken off to his satisfaction.
He returned a small story. One afternoon he was standing outside the restaurant when a friend came out after enjoying a hearty lunch and strongly recommended the place to him for a “fantastic meal” absolutely unaware that it belonged to him!
That perhaps says it all. Absolutely no hype but high on appreciation because as Zaid says, “our family traditionally believes in quality and quality sells anywhere.”
Though parking can get a tad problematic, the food at Bamboo Garden is undoubtedly a ‘tasty' (read good) value for money.
Open all days for dine-in, delivery (within three kms), take away and catering. Lunch and dinner time noon to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. respectively. For details call 4361617.SOMA BASU