Malaysian Curry Chicken in Hot Pot – Bamboo Terrace
It’s hard to imagine the same people behind the late, not-so-great Great Wall Chinese Restaurant over by the mall are also responsible for Bamboo Terrace, which opened by the Walmart on West Broadway in 2012 and has been made into – arguably – Columbia’s best Asian restaurant. Tasting the freshness of the ingredients they now work with and the pride they clearly take in every dish, one can only guess how much it must have hurt to serve crappy steam-table “Chinese” food. Having trained in China and worked in kitchens from New York City to Las Vegas, they knew how to make the good stuff. They just weren’t sure Columbia was ready. A year and a half later, I think it’s safe to say that we were. It’s also safe to to say that Celeste Chen, John Jiang, Ming Lu and Xiu Lu finally have something to be very proud of indeed.
Traditionally Americanized goodies like House Special Lo Mein, fried rices and Mongolian beef will satisfy the less adventurous. The wonton soup will delight all comers. But there’s more – lots more. Chicken with Basil Leaf is a Thai-style stir-fry that’ll keep you reaching for the bowl of rice (and, even with soup and egg roll, will set you back just $7.25 at lunch). Japanese-style udon noodles are thick and comforting and my son’s favorite. Stir-Fried Sole Fish pairs bright, fresh-tasting fish with crunchy sugar snap peas and pickles, a surprising addition that gives the dish a fun, sour kick. The lettuce wraps are wonderful. Finally, Bamboo Terrace’s specials and the no-longer-secret Chinese menu give executive chef John Jiang free rein to serve stir-fried duck with tofu and a steak and beef lung dish, served cold, that blew me away and won over even a squeamish Mrs. SMEs. Something for everybody here.
But the dish I kept coming back for again and again last year, a dish that offers the highest ceiling and general appeal, is the Malaysian Curry Chicken in Hot Pot. Tender cubes of chicken thigh and chunks of potato are simmered in a spicy, basil-scented coconut curry broth. I haven’t been to Malaysia, so for me it’s southern Thailand in a bowl – a very large, very hot clay bowl with a lid. Everything cooked just right, balanced and composed, order after order. It even works as takeout, though I recommend you eat in – the attentive staff and charming matriarch of the operation being part of the fun. Plus, they (finally) have a liquor license, so you can beat back the heat in anything you order with a couple of Tsing Taos (they’re also more than happy to dial down the heat – just ask).
3101 W Broadway, Suite 101
Columbia, MO 65203