Restaurant Review: Bambu Thai-Asian Cuisine

In Richardson, try Lao-influenced flavors from the Isaan region.

On a Saturday night, tables fill and refill at Bambu Thai-Asian Cuisine in Richardson, where the menu is broad, encompassing the usual curries, tart-sour soups, and noodles, but specialties come from the northeastern, rice-growing Isaan region. These Lao-influenced dishes speak with simple, direct power; look to chalkboard specials or ask a server to steer you. Above all, start with rounds of grilled Isaan-style sausage, studded with sticky rice, aromatic with kaffir lime and lemongrass, and funky from several days curing. (How many days depends. The chef is chasing “that Isaan flavor.”) They come with roasted peanuts, slivered ginger, and tiny triangles of lime. You may want to follow this with octopus or, better still, Moo Yang, rough hanks of sweetly marinated pork. Pop them into your mouth with morsels of sticky rice. Crispy-chewy with a delicious char, it’s a dish from a region where sticky rice and grilled meats are king. Flavors can be tidy—a papaya salad’s tender threads had dallied less with fish sauce than lime. Homemade nam khao tod, a crumbled rice cake salad with cartilaginous shreds of cured pork, was less compelling than intriguing, lacking a balancing acid bite. But mango sticky rice was a fittingly lovely end: ripe, floral slices fanned around more sticky rice that’s drunk deeply of coconut milk.

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