In a meeting this week, over particularly 'blah' sandwiches, a client of mine suggested a little spot down the street that had great Chinese.
"It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's so good. They have a special bamboo dish I can't go a week without," she confessed. And while she may live just up the street and I live dozens of blocks up town, she sounded convincing enough that I made a trip back down to the area the following night.
Bamboo Buddha didn't disappont.
I stopped in with a friend pretty late in the evening and while the "special" usually takes a while to steam (and it's suggested you call ahead) I asked if it could be made. I was told it would be a whole half an hour. Pft! I've been left waiting that long at plenty of places for much less complex dishes!
So I happily say that I'll wait for the House Special Bamboo Rice and my friend orders up the Bean Curd & Mixed Vegetables in Hot Pot dish for us as well. The waiter laughs and says that the hot pot is another one that takes a while -- suggesting we perhaps choose a chicken dish or maybe just have a nice beer in the meanwhile. We go for a regular pot of tea instead and hang around, talking about work and waving at the owner's baby boy who's precariously wobbling around on his 1 and-a-half year old feet.
The bamboo special finally arrives and it's quite an interesting sight. Rice with chicken (our choice -- other meats can be had), ginger, and greens all wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed in a long Chinese bamboo shoot. The table across from us couldn't help but come over and have a look.
The bean curd/tofu arrives right after and it looks great too (see top photo) -- and SO much tofu! We thought we'd have a more vegetables, honestly!
But appearances aside, the food was delicious. This place definitely proves that flavourful tofu is not necessarily an oxymoron. The hot pot really seals the flavour into each piece... mmmm.
The next hour or so was spent eating and talking about the lotto with the owner who was so into it, he insisted on going to buy us a 649 quick pick next door -- we had to insist on giving him the toonie for it as well.
Sure, reading the news today it would seem a crowd of Albertans are taking the jackpot home, but for a great night of filling dishes and good laughs, we came in at under 20 bucks. Our gamble at trying out Bamboo Buddha paid off quite well.
Bamboo Buddha, 752 King Street W., 416-504-9311