Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
SOMETIMES when you’re out with a gang it’s easiest to order a banquet. After all, that’s what banquets are there for. Correct?
This is especially true in a restaurant that builds its menu primarily around share plates, like Bambusa does in Manuka.
Bambusa has been around since at least 2011 (when I did my first review of the establishment). It takes a fully modern approach to Asian cooking, featuring new and traditional dishes.
Two banquet menus are on offer. We selected the one for $37 per person (minimum of six) and got stuck into it with plenty of dishes rolling out and all a generous size. In that sense, the banquet is good value.
The spring rolls were lovely and the fried dim pretty decent. We couldn’t hold our hands on our hearts and say the same about the sang choy bao. It lacked in the flavour department. We loved the crunch of the lettuce cups but were disappointed with the taste.
The shan tung chicken was next to arrive and it hit the spot.
I’m always fascinated by the gazillion ways kitchens whip up this dish, with each chef having their own special take. The pepper steak hot pot pleased some more than others. The sizzling garlic king prawns scored much better and sizzling hot they were. You could certainly taste the garlic, but the balance was there so the dish wasn’t overpowering.
Perhaps it’s to be expected, but many of the banquet dishes were battered and/or fried, which we felt was a bit much towards the end. Some clean veggies would have helped cut through.
The tempura ling fillet wasn’t memorable; we preferred the ching-tu style pork. The banquet also included a plain rice and a fried rice, and loads of each.
By the time dessert rolled around I was stuffed, although that certainly isn’t Bambusa’s fault. I did road test the fried ice cream and it was delightful (I was a bit over “fried” by that stage, however).
Bambusa has settled nicely into Manuka and seems to be holding its own in an industry that seems to chop and change and chop and change these days. It has a nice outdoor dining area. The inside is quite spacious and the back table, where we sat, is massive with a huge “lazy susan” in the middle making sharing a snap.
Bambusa, 38 Franklin Street, Manuka, Call 6295 1036. Open for lunch and dinner daily.