Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn. Jun 9, 2005

Section: FLAVOR

50 Albany Turnpike (Route 44)

Canton, 860-693-4144

This little eatery, tucked into a brick building set back from the road and featuring excellent Vietnamese cuisine, is a popular takeout stop for Farmington Valley commuters who travel Route 44. That's no surprise, because the food here is well prepared, prices are low and service is efficient and friendly.

From appetizers to entrees, each item we bring home is a winner. Goi Cuon, Vietnamese spring rolls, are delicate wraps stuffed with fresh veggies, shredded pork or fresh shrimp, served with a light peanut sauce. Bo Luc Lac, which features tender chunks of filet mignon on a bed of watercress, tomatoes and onions, is a tasty Asian alternative to the American chef salad. Bun Heo Nuong -- grilled pork served on slender rice noodles and garnished with shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, crunchy fried onions and chopped peanuts -- is an impressive combination of complementary flavors and textures.

One of the restaurant's signature dishes is whole crisp fried flounder served with a spicy sauce. Another is the seafood pancake, filled with lobster, scallops, shrimps and vegetables and a real bargain at $15.95. Other options include a variety of soups, such as several spicy hot-and-sours; appetizers; salads; and noodle dishes served with grilled beef, pork or seafood and shrimp, chicken or pork fried rice.

The menu also includes close to a dozen vegetarian soups, appetizers and entrees made with tofu. Most dinners are served with choice of white rice, brown rice or rice noodles. Bamboo Grill is open for dinner only. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m.

-- KORKY VANN

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Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn. Sep 25, 2003

Section: FLAVOR

Bamboo

Grill Clone

With the arrival of autumn this week, diners can still enjoy a taste of summer at the Bamboo Grill in Meriden. Called Goi Cuon, the dish is described as summer ravioli because of the light rice paper that envelopes fillings of vegetables, pork and seafood.

Bamboo Grill, which opened earlier this month at 20 Centennial Ave. in Meriden, has a sister location by the same name in Canton that opened in 1994. Both are owned by Ve Do and his wife, Dung; the couple came to the United States in 1975 after the fall of Saigon. After working in the corporate world, in 1983 Ve Do opened Que Huong -- the second Vietnamese restaurant in Hartford at the time -- which he named for his daughter, Huong, and ran until 1994. In addition, he oversaw Que Huong Express from 1988 to 1991 in the Hartford Food Court until it closed. Despite the challenges that arose with each location and the economic climate, the Do family has labored diligently to create a reputation for flavorful Vietnamese cuisine.

Sauteed chicken breast is served in lemon-grass hot sauce with onions and green peppers (Ga Sa), in a spicy curry sauce with carrots and onions (Ga Ca Ri), and with snow peas, onions and mushrooms (Ga Hoa Lan.) Meat-eaters will also enjoy Bo Luc Lac, which features marinated, tender filet mignon with watercress, onion and tomato. Vietnamese pancakes are rice battered crepes, sauteed, then stuffed abundantly with chicken, seafood or vegetables. Other vegetarian selections feature hot-and-sour tofu soup and stir-fried mix vegetables with tofu and mushrooms (Rau Chay). Lunches are priced from $4 to $6; dinners range from $8.95 to $14.95.

Whatever you choose, you can be assured it's healthy for you, says Max Friedman, a West Hartford patron. "I've tried countless entrees over several years and have not found one that I haven't liked or that hasn't been healthy for me."

--JOHN AVIGNONE

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Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn. Jul 6, 2000

Section: CALENDAR

BAMBOO GRILL

875 Main St., S. Glastonbury, 860-633-3446

When Que Huong restaurant left Hartford several years ago, we mourned the crisp, triangular shrimp rolls, the filet mignon on watercress and the hot-and-sour shrimp soup.

Owners Ve and Dung Do moved to Canton and opened the Bamboo Grill. In 1997 they expanded the Bamboo Grill to South Glastonbury, where we rediscovered our favorites.

You can make a meal out of their special soups -- seafood noodle, hot-and-sour chicken or hot-and-sour fish -- or stick to the appetizer-size wonton, lobster and asparagus or chicken and mushroom with bean thread.

Beef, chicken or pork on a stick and ravioli (a kind of eggroll with steamed wrapper) are favorite appetizers.

Entrees we tried include sauteed chicken breast in lemongrass, a whole crispy fried flounder, and the traditional puffy pancakes filled with vegetables and a choice of chicken, beef, seafood or pork.

There is an ample selection of vegetarian dishes.

The restaurant is closed Mondays. Hours are: lunch, Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner, Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m., Sunday 5 to 9 p.m. $

Cost: $=$25 and under

$$=$25-$50

$$$=$50 and above

--DONNA LARCEN

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Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn. Dec 28, 1997

Section: NORTHEAST

South Glastonbury has long been considered a must-stop for lovers of Southeast Asian food, thanks to the superlative Char Koon restaurant. Now this tiny village tucked inside a booming Hartford 'burb has a Vietnamese restaurant, too.

Bamboo Grill is owned by Ve and Dung Do, who've earned respectful nods at their Bamboo Grill in Canton and, before that, Que Huong in Hartford. At its best, food served in this new offshoot is excitingly flavored and intelligently conceived. Ginger, chilis, mint, tamarind, garlic, onions and the cuisine's signature nuoc mam, a fish sauce, work together to build wonderful layers of taste. Don't be surprised to find yourself hurrying from one dish to another to savor this wonderful kaleidoscope of flavors.

Easily the most spectacular dish is a crispy fried whole flounder in a hot and spicy sauce. The fish is really lovely, the moist, tender flesh serving as a perfect foil to the spry seasoning.

Visually, this is a memorable dish. This fish is actually kind of scary looking with tiny, sharp teeth gleaming against the nearly black skin. This bold display of carnality makes me recoil just a bit internally a reaction, I'm sure, born of America's squeaky clean, overprocessed food culture. But a Jamaican-born friend's face lights up with delight. This is fish like those back home, she says, nibbling at the bits of crispy flesh clinging to the bones.

A number of dishes also stand out, including a clever assortment of appetizers ranging from the expected spring rolls to meal-sized bowls of soup and sophisticated salads. I love the peppery feistiness of the hot and sour fish soup, Canh Ca, that offers fish, pineapple chunks, tomatoes and various bits of greenery. Cha Gio Tom is a triangular-shaped roll sporting a whole shrimp inside. The tail peeks out of one end and serves as a handle. Goi Tom Thit is a refreshing shrimp and pork salad featuring a tamarind-dressed mlange of shredded cabbage, carrot, onion and chopped peanuts. Flecks of mint provide a lovely bright accent. Particularly noteworthy is the Bun Cha Gio, a deep-fried eggroll presented on a bed of rice noodles, lettuce and bean sprouts topped with fried onions, peanuts and what tastes like a nuoc mam-based sauce.

There's a big curry taste and a big curry heat to an entre called Ga Ca Ri, chicken sauted with carrots and onions. A milder, more delicate curry sauce enlivens a dish of sliced eggplant, tofu, mushrooms and onions called Dau Hu Ca Ri. Thin ribbons of grilled pork, the edges crispy with a sweet char, ride a wave of rice noodles in the Bun Thit Heo Nuong. Tender squares of steak served up as Bo Sa are given a lift-off by a chili-charged sauce infused with the distinctive tang of lemon grass. Deceptively simple is a plate of whitefish simmered in a deep caramelized ginger sauce and paired with cubes of pineapple. And there aren't all that many shrimp in the Bun Tom Nuong, but those resting on a bed of rice noodles, lettuce and bean sprouts have a lovely elusive smokiness from the grill.

How I wish for something to spike up an entre-sized bowl of Pho Bo, the classic Vietnamese soup of beef and rice stick noodles, that tastes as gray as it looks. Equally lacking zip is the Banh Xeo Heo, a rice batter pancake stuffed with sliced pork, onions, bean sprouts and mushrooms.

Our table swoons over the homemade coconut ice cream flecked with creamy bits of coconut meat. A caramel flan is grainy one night, but smooth and satisfying on a second visit.

Bamboo Grill's fine menu is seriously undermined by service and decor. The wait staff are friendly and mean well; they even pop a bottle of a brawny California red wine we brought into an ice bucket in their eagerness to please. But I'm bothered by dirty dishes left sitting on the table and too-long waits between courses. The dining room is depressingly spartan and still looks like the coffee shop it once was.

* * *

Bamboo Grill

875 Main St.

South Glastonbury

Phone: (860) 633-3446

HOURS: Closed Mon.; Lunch, Tues.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner, Tues.-Thurs., 5-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 5-10 p.m., Sun., 5-9 p.m.

PRICES: Appetizers, $2.50-$5.95; entrees, $6.50-$14.95; desserts, $3-$3.50.

HIGHLIGHTS: Hot and sour fish soup; shrimp roll; eggroll served on rice noodles, lettuce and bean sprouts; shrimp and pork salad; curry chicken; crispy fried whole flounder; grilled pork; coconut ice cream; Vietnamese coffee.

SCENE: Spartan surroundings take some of the bloom from the fragrant plates of food. Staff is friendly but don't hold your breath waiting for the table to be cleared.

OTHER: American Express, Visa/MasterCard, Discover; bring your own wine and beer; nonsmoking dining room; entrance and bathrooms are accessible to persons with disabilities.

Ratings primarily reflect food, with consideration given to service and ambiance.

O = poor; * = fair; * * = good;

* * * = very good; * * * * = excellent

--BILL DALEY

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Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn. Oct 25, 1995

Section: FOOD

The spot: Bamboo Grill

50 Albany Turnpike,

Route 44,

Canton

(860) 693-4144

The food: Bun Heo Nuong (Grilled Pork on Rice Noodles)

The price: $5.50

The lowdown: The next time you're in Canton, try expanding your culinary horizons by sampling this big bowl of noodle wonderfulness. It just might convince you to abandon grilled cheezers and tomato soup as the ultimate fall lunch.

For around the price of a fast-food lunch, you can sit down to or take out this appetizing yet healthful tummy warmer. As you slurp your way through your first bowl, you'll be amazed that a single dish can hold so many layers of flavors and texture contrasts: crisp and tender, hot and cold, sweet and savory.

Bun Heo Nuong starts with a big mound of firm but tender rice noodles tossed with shredded lettuce and bean sprouts. Fanned out atop the noodles are razor-thin pieces of charcoal-grilled pork, marinated in a savory bath of soy and garlic. A lavish sprinkling of ground peanuts, crispy fried onion wisps and bright orange julienned carrots add lots of crunch and flavor and just a tad of sweetness.

The finishing touch is a splash of the special tangy house sauce, blended by owner Ve Do from concentrated fish sauce, water, lemon juice, garlic and sugar.

--DAVID DEBORAH RITCHIE

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Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn. Aug 1, 1994

Section: CONNECTICUT

If a spring roll seems too hot for this season, customers at the Bamboo Grill can order Gui Cuon -- a summer roll -- instead.

That's one of eight Vietnamese appetizers and one of 93 lunch menu choices at the restaurant that opened Saturday.

An experienced restaurateur who has run Que Huong Restaurant on New Park Avenue in Hartford, Ve Do spent several years seeking a suburban location before finding 50 Albany Turnpike.

Do's wife, Dung Nguyen, is the chef, and she likes the size of the kitchen there, he said.

"You need a big kitchen because Vietnamese food takes lots of preparation," said Do, who worked as a computer programmer at CIGNA from 1983 to 1987. "If you feel comfortable, the quantity goes up. If you have to squeeze in a small place, you have low production."

The brick complex with gold-lettered signs seems to be a draw for restaurateurs. There are three others there, but they do not seem to mind the competition.

"It's a good mix of cuisines," said Kevin Charles, who opened his smokehouse in the complex last week.

Two years ago, Hua Van Nguyen, Do's countryman, opened Buon Apetito. Nguyen, who frequently ate at Do's Hartford restaurant, was pleased with Do's arrival in Canton.

"Finally I'll have someone to talk to in Vietnamese," Nguyen said.

A native of Da Nang, Do immigrated to America in 1975 after the end of the Vietnam War. In 1983, he became the owner of Que Huong, the second Vietnamese restaurant in Hartford. A story on the former P.M. Magazine, shown locally on Channel 3, attracted customers from as far as New York City and Boston. But about two years ago, crime escalated in Hartford enough to keep his customers from coming into the city, Do said.

His customers' fears pressured him to move to Canton, he said.

The move has wrought changes. The Bamboo Grill is more upscale than his rambling Hartford restaurant.

Do has set plants on ceramic, barrel-shaped stands in a scheme of deep turquoise and black. He has hung inlaid mother-of-pearl scenes on aqua walls and has suspended a wooden glass rack from the ceiling.

The home-cooked food will stay the same except for the addition of seafood specialties.

Do gets his ingredients from markets in Boston, New York, and lately, in Hartford, where many Oriental grocery stores have sprung up. His wife will continue to mix her own sauces with "red pepper, green pepper, black pepper and lots of garlic," he said.

And as in Que Huong, a tiny glowing shrine devoted to a god of business will sit on the floor in the corner of the restaurant, "a custom to show respect for the god when you do business and to get help in pushing up business," Do said.

--LINDA B. HIRSH