Bamboo Terrace

I was going to include some initial thoughts on west Columbia’s new Chinese restaurant, but based on lunch today – again, amazing – I’ve decided they warrant their own post outright.

Some background is in order. Basically, the west side of Columbia is home to almost no good restaurants. You have Shakespeare’s, which is fine, and Mandarin House, which does decent Americanized Chinese food. But after that, it’s ho-hum (Pasta Factory) to worse (Truman’s, where the food and clientele vie endlessly for most awful thing about the place).

To this mix has been added Bamboo Terrace, located in a former El Maguey location just west of Walmart on West Broadway. My first visit was auspicious, with “House Special Pan Fried Noodles” and “Velvet Beef in Hot Chili Oil” both delivering the goods. Bright, distinctive flavors, proper attention to vegetables, no gloopy, all-purpose gravy. My impression was, “Damn, there are some people in this kitchen that actually care.”

Even better have been slightly more adventurous dishes. “Malaysian Style Curry Chicken in Hot Pot” (photo above) featured tender, dark-meat chicken, Thai basil, potatoes, coconut milk and loads of heat – absolutely delicious. Today, thinking I might trip them up, I went with “Eggplant with Garlic Sauce in Hot Pot.” I mean, eggplant, right? Instead of a misstep, I got the best eggplant dish I’ve ever had – slices of purple eggplant in a garlicky, firecracker-hot sauce. Again, each ingredient remained distinct in flavor and texture. The place truly is the Chinese anti-buffet.

That’s not to say Bamboo Terrace is flawless. The interior is sleepy and cold-feeling and the appetizers (drab “Curry Seafood Rangoon” and oily “Basil Duck Rolls”) have been average. And for some, the prices are going to seem a bit steep for Chinese food. But that’s only because we’re conditioned to Chinese food being – mostly – cheap junk. They don’t play that game at Bamboo Terrace and price and food reflect it. Bravo, I say; it’s worth every penny.

I asked about their approach while paying for my lunch today. The hostess – owner’s wife, I believe – said they are shooting for a more authentic style of Asian food than many restaurants serve. They stir-fry each dish individually, she told me, so customers are welcomed to request a little more chilies, a dash extra of sugar, a touch less salt. Also, if something is labeled “hot,” they’re not kidding – both hot pots packed a mean punch. But again, at Bamboo Terrace, they’re flexible…and Columbia’s west side just got a whole lot tastier.

Bamboo Terrace
3101 W. Broadway, Suite 101


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

5 thoughts

  1. Very cool; agreed that higher prices are totally worth it for good ingredients and execution. Wonder if they’re interested in fresh hot peppers…

  2. We love Bamboo Terrace! We have had both take out and ate there and both times we had a quality experience. I ordered the chicken with pineapple and ginger and my husband had the Thai noodles and our plates were cleaned. Even my 1 1/2 year old helped daddy eat the Thai noodles (they were not spicy). We plan a return trip this weekend to try something new.

  3. Based on Scott’s enthusiasm, we went there on Sunday. It was a great meal, delicious and authentic in a way most Columbia Chinese restaurants can’t match. I ordered something simple, shrimp with broccoli, and my companion ordered the duck salad. Both were delicious. At most other Chinese restaurants in mid MO, “shrimp and broccoli” would translate to four thumbnail-sized shrimps, three pieces of broccoli, an a ton of carrots, cabbage, and miscellaneous filler. This, in contrast, offered a plentiful number of large shrimps and a generous portion of broccoli, all in a sauce redolent of scallions and sesame oil. It was superb. This place is a game changer!

  4. Best Chinese in Columbia hands down! I went for lunch today with my wife and baby and we were very surprised. There was a lot of effort and thought put into our food. I got the Malaysian Curry Chicken Hot Pot and my wife played it safe and got the sesame chicken lunch special. The lunch special was very small, but the hot pot looked enough for two and they didn’t charge extra for more rice. If you like curry, the hot pot is a must try!

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