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Bamboo Bistro | Corona del Mar

Melanie Wong | Dec 29, 201711:36 AM

A couple months ago I had a chance to try Bamboo Bistro in Corona del Mar for dinner. It's operated by the third generation of the family that owns the famed Brodard in Garden Grove. Besides Vietnamese cookery and some of Brodard's standards, it also offers a few Thai dishes.

Ordering was easy . . . we stuck to Brodard's best dishes. The Brodard Grilled Pork Spring Rolls (nem nuong cuon), $4.95, were a must. More than a decade since my last visit to Brodard, any comparison I might make would be questionable. But I can say that these were head and shoulders above the many imitators I've tried in Northern California in the years since. The pork patties were still warm and the rolls tightly wrapped over the bulging components. The sauce had that elusive fruitiness that others have not duplicated though it seemed less meaty than my remembrance of Brodard's. These nem nuong cuon are the reason to come here.

Roasted Duck Salad, $14.95, was a disappointment. Perhaps in deference to non-Vietnamese clientele, the salad was already tossed with the lime-chile dressing (nuoc cham) before service. Besides wilting the finely shredded veggies prematurely, this also did away with the possibility of adjusting the balance of the nuoc cham at the table. And adjusting it needed, tasting pretty dilute with less acidity, fish sauce and spice than I would have liked. Also the banana blossom component seemed pretty stingy. I might order this again and ask the staff to not dress it ahead of time. I'd also request the nuoc cham blend used for their own family meal instead of this watered down version.

I'd been looking forward to the Vietnamese crepe (banh xeo) but noted that the menu described it as including chicken tenders instead of pork. Ix-nay on that. Then the Seafood Crepe, $15.95, filled with tiger prawns, calamari and crab caught my eye and we ordered that instead. Beautiful job on the crepe wrapper from the crunchy exterior with a little bit of charred highlights to the creamy interior and intense coconut flavor. The seafood components inside were perfectly cooked, still tender and juicy, not turned into rubber. The one ding would be amount of greenery. I see the same at San Francisco places that cater to non-Viet clientele who ignore the greens. Instead of a huge mound of fresh herbs and lettuce on a separate platter served at mom and pops, this was more like a little bit of garnish. But I bet if I asked for more, it would have been accommodated.

We had an intimate two-top in a small glassed-in nook at the front of the restaurant (and a view of the gas station across the street). There's a window on the interior wall as well such that the people at the table on the other side are nestled right at your side. To the staff's credit, they did remember to check on our remote table pretty frequently.

Corkage was $15 for our BYOB wine. Dinner total for two diners was $66. Certainly an upcharge from Brossard, yet worth it to us to save 20 minutes of driving in each direction from Laguna Beach.

Bamboo Bistro
2600 East Coast Hwy #160
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
(949) 720-1289

Previous mentions (pro and con):

Main Menu – Bamboo Bistro
Brodard Restaurant,
Bamboo Bistro
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