7953 University Avenue, La Mesa
It was my birthday a few weeks ago and my family gave me the choice where to eat.
There wasn’t much thought. I picked Bamboo Thai Cuisine on University Avenue, near La Mesa Blvd.
It’s been around for about six years and is directly across the street from Tamarind, another Thai place.
Having two Thai restaurants in the same block in La Mesa is, to me, proof that the cuisine has moved from exotic status to comfort food.
Tamarind has its supporters — it averages four stars on Yelp — but I prefer Bamboo.
Tamarind is set up with more style and outdoor dining, but Bamboo just seems homey to me. It’s not as crowded as Tamarind and I like the food better.
The yellow beef curry is my go-to dish. It’s slightly sweet, slightly spicy with thin strips of beef as well as potato, peas, onions and carrots.
I also enjoy the avocado chicken curry, which made from a green curry paste in coconut milk with avocado, bell pepper, peas, carrots, basil and eggplant.
The mango chicken curry, made from a red curry sauce with mango cubes, sliced chicken breast, bell pepper, peas, carrots, green beans, and basil leaves is also a good alternative.
My wife introduced me to the joys of yellow beef curry, but she is vegan so this time she got the green curry with vegetables and split the vegetarian spring rolls with the kids (except for the ones I grabbed -- it was my birthday!)
One of the shining achievements of parenthood for me is that my wife and I have been able to get our kids to crave cuisines that were considered exotic when I was their age.
My son is a big fan of Bamboo’s egg drop soup, which is creamy and chicken-y, with just a hint of onion and carrot as well as cabbage and cilantro.
We get a big bowl and take home what we don’t eat. It’s better the next day.
My daughter loves the sweet orange chicken, which is deep-fried and glazed with a sweet orange sauce and served with white noodle-like crunchies.
Everyone who gets dinner at Bamboo gets a cup of tapioca coconut milk. I’m not a fan, but my daughter loves it. I prefer the mango sticky rice.
Bamboo is great Thai comfort food. I don’t know if it’s worth a drive from anywhere other than La Mesa, but I find it interesting that the city has more decent Thai restaurants than Chinese spots, considering how that cuisine has been mainstreamed longer.