Tom and Matavee Burgess opened their fourth Thai Bamboo restaurant at 2010 N. Fourth St. in Feb., adding to the three they already own and operate in Spokane. This one is their showplace restaurant. First off, it’s hard to miss with the bright red pagoda exterior, but once you step inside it’s a feast for the eyes. Matavee is from Thailand, and the couple travels there often, bringing back beautiful artifacts for their restaurants. Matavee is the head cook for all the restaurants, training her cooks on how to prepare traditional Thai fare as well as some twists to recipes that she created. “Thai food is very, very healthy,” Tom said. “It’s one of the fastest growing cuisine’s in the United States. It’s very light, and cooked to order.”
Contrary to popular opinion, Thai food isn’t spicy unless you want it to be. Most of their dishes can be ordered from “zero to four stars” with zero being the least spicy and four being very spicy. Never having tried Thai food before, that was an assumption I had, but after sampling the Phad Thai noodles (rice noodles), the most popular Thai food, and the chicken cashew nut, another favorite, I was not on fire — just pleasantly surprised.
“Thai food is known for its synergy — how things blend together,” Tom said. Swimming Rama for example is steamed spinach and sautéed chicken topped with peanut sauce, popular in Thai food. This dish, among others, is one of their weekday lunch combinations at a reasonable $8.99.
Thai Bamboo has appetizers, entrée salads, soups, rice bowls, curry dishes, seafood and vegetarian options. Vegetables cooked the Thai way are very tasty, very different. Tom said families come in and the kids really do eat their vegetables. Kids love the place anyway he said, probably because of the high-dome cove ceiling in the main dining room, which seats 130 people. Tom designed the restaurant, and the dining room ceiling is a knock-out. Thousands of LED lights constantly change the color of the ceiling, and fiber-optics look like twinkling stars with the occasional laser-created shooting star. “I was building this from the ground up, and I got to thinking, what would be fun for the main dining room?” Tom said. Currently The Galaxy Lounge is under construction, due to open in two weeks. The lounge will feature fiber-optics also, creating a galaxy on the ceiling in the bar. The lounge will have beer, wine, pre-mixed cocktails and saki. It also opens up, so it’s all outdoors in the summer. “The lounge will be more international,” Tom said. “People will be able to get a cheeseburger or fish and chips.” Marble top tables and Thai silk seats deck out the booths, and Bamboo frames the windows. A slide show with photos of Thailand are shown on two screens. The banquet room, which seats 35, has another high-tech screening set-up so power point presentations can be easily used in meetings. Tom said the restaurant is establishing a regular clientele, as well as tourists and locals taking the Thai food plunge for the first time. “We love the locals,” he said. Thai Bamboo is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m., except Friday and Saturday they stay open until 9:30. Once open, The Galaxy Lounge will be open until midnight. For more information call 667-5300.
Thai food fans in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene now have more to love. This local chain opened its fourth outlet last spring — a glitzy Las Vegas-style flagship restaurant. The 200-seat dining room in north Spokane has a domed ceiling with thousands of fiber-optic stars and lasers to create the illusion of the night sky. We like the lunch combos with pad thai and red curry, and the hard-to-resist fried bananas with vanilla ice cream. (Kirsten Harrington)
The folks at THAI BAMBOO can finally replace the artist’s rendering of the Coeur d’Alene location with a real photo on their Website. Not since Mad Mary’s, which closed in 1998, has Coeur d’Alene had a Thai restaurant. With three sister-locations in Spokane Valley and Spokane, the new Coeur d’Alene Thai Bamboo is the largest, most elaborate created by owners Tom and Matavee Burgess. The interior is delightfully overdone, with two-toned bamboo walls, bamboo-patterned laminate on the floor, even fresh-growing bamboo on the table. Thai-inspired decoration is everywhere: woven into the seating fabric, inlaid in gold onto the edge of the granite table tops, hung as elaborately dressed figures carved in relief. In the bustling main dining room, the 17-foot-high dome ceiling lit with pulsing LED lights glows a soothing cerulean blue like the evening sky. A tropical-themed patio is still under construction.
Although the Coeur d’Alene interior is unusual, the menu is similar to all locations, from commonly ordered items like Phad Thai, satay and fried rice to such house specialties as the Sea Bass Mango Tango ($17) and the Crying Tiger ($17), which is an 8-ounce flatiron steak with wok-toasted mixed vegetables and coconut black-brown rice.
Fortified by pungent Thai iced tea, we ordered the shrimp Phad Thai ($10-$12) and the Orange Beef ($12), both of which were fragrant and flavorful, with all the right textures: crisp vegetables, tender meat, soft noodles. Lunch combos are $9, and appetizers like spring rolls, fried tofu, coconut prawns and steamed clams vary from $6 to $10. When the weather warms, I’m trying the Mieng Kahm — sliced toasted coconut, ginger, red onion, lime, Thai chili, peanuts and plum sauce wrapped in Hawaiian Bai Cha Plu leaves ($9) — with a side of Singha Thai beer. (They also serve domestic and imported beer, as well as a few white and red wines.)
Flavorful and spicy food, the oddly glitzy interior and the buzz of being new and busy — we waited 20 minutes for a table — make Thai Bamboo a delightful experience.
Thai Bamboo, 2010 N. 4th St., Coeur d’Alene, is open Mon-Thu 11:30 am-9 pm, Fri 11:30 am-9:30 pm, Sat noon-9:30 pm and Sun noon-9 pm. Visit www.thaibamboorestaurant.com or call (208) 667-5300.
At its best, dining is an experience that involves all of your senses. A second location of a popular Valley restaurant, Thai Bamboo, affords just that — a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle.
The exterior of the recently opened restaurant (a block north of NorthTown Mall) sports live and dried bamboo, giving a hint that you’re about to enter another world. Once inside, the bamboo theme continues, accented with Thai woodcarvings, huge jars and native artwork. The soothing sound of water fountains, tinkling wind chimes and soft Thai music runs through the comfortably large dining room. Booth seats glimmer in bright rainbow colors of Thai silk. Large murals at each end of the room are bright with the faces and facets of Thai life. An eating bar along a side wall is embedded with Thai coins and paper money in its bamboo surface.
The exotic, spicy-sweet aromas coming from the kitchen, where chef Matavee Burgess works her culinary magic, are tantalizing. Burgess specializes in southern Thai cuisine — sweet, spicy and aromatic. The expanded menu has no less than 67 items, not including beverages. If the sheer size of the menu is daunting, the Thai wait staff is familiar with the dishes. Popular items include satay, Peking duck wrap, seafood salad, red curry rice bowl, Saba fish with ginger sauce and cashew tofu with chili sauce.
At Matavee’s urging, I sampled Nuea Tod, a Thai beef jerky appetizer. This is not brittle, home-on-the-range dried beef, but meat that is tender and flavorful, with a teriyaki taste. I couldn’t pass up the chicken cashew nut, a popular Thai specialty. This main dish features saut & eacute;ed chicken, bell peppers, onions, green beans, carrots and cashews. The vegetables are crunchy fresh and sliced in interesting shapes, with carrots like miniature suns. The tangy sauce had just enough kick and sweet undertones.
The measure of a good Thai restaurant is usually its Phad Thai, a well-known Thai noodle dish. Thai Bamboo’s version was excellent. The stir-fried rice noodles, tofu, egg, ground peanuts, green onion and chicken were mixed with a spicy, flavorful sauce. Matavee surprised me with dessert — small slices of fresh banana covered in a spring roll wrapper and deep fried. The sweet, soft banana contrasts well with the crunchy wrap. This yummy dessert can also be topped with a scoop of coconut or banana ice cream from Mary Lou’s.
Thai Bamboo, at 5204 N. Division and 12722 E. Sprague, is open Monday-Thursday 11 am-9 pm, Friday 11 am-9:30 pm, Saturday noon-9:30 pm and Sunday noon to 9 pm. Call 777-8424 or 444-8424.
Two blocks north of a previous location on Division Street, Thai Bamboo opened its fourth outlet on Tuesday, May 10. The new 9,500-square-foot restaurant has seating for over 200 people, two outdoor patios, a private banquet room and a lounge.
The move to a bigger location with flashy décor coincides with Thai Bamboo’s ten-year anniversary. “With little new building going on because of the economic slump, a new Spokane landmark with a big, bright, fun-looking outside should cheer people up,” says owner Tom Burgess.
The restaurant’s interior is filled with gold- and jewel-toned statues, sequined dragon wall hangings and chandeliers with tropical birds. In the main dining area, the sky-blue ceiling is equipped with thousands of lights, fiber optic stars and lasers. After the restaurant closes in the evening, the pocket doors to the lounge slide open to create a nightclub with music and a light show that gives the illusion of dancing under the stars. “Not bad for Spokane,” Burgess says. The menu includes Thai favorites like Swimming Rama, curries and salads, as well as a few dishes with Japanese and Chinese influences. The pad Thai noodles served with my lunch combo could have used a little more flavor, but the Thai Super Bowl was perfect, with lots of sautéed veggies and chunks of lightly smoky organic Small Planet tofu. For $9, you won’t leave hungry.
The Coconut Lounge Bistro, adjacent to the main dining room, features a pub-style menu of fish and chips, Thai hot wings, salads and snacks ($3-$12). Order a spicy cilantro martini or a pineapple mint mojito surrounded by faux palm trees and plan your tropical escape.
Retail space adjacent to the restaurant will be filled this summer with tenants selling pizza, frozen yogurt, ice cream, coffee and bubble tea. (Kirsten Harrington)
Thai Bamboo — If you’re looking for an escape, there’s hardly a better option than a foray to one of Thai Bamboo’s three Spokane locations. The menu is enormous, with some items helpfully labeled “popular Thai dish.” The Thai Bamboo style fried rice ($10) was easily the best fried rice I’ve had in Spokane, with big chunks of tender pork, crisp cabbage and other vegetables all fried up with jasmine rice. Swimming rama ($9) is a mysteriously named dish that is really quite simple and delicious. Sauteed chicken is served on a bed of fresh spinach and topped with a rich peanut sauce. Thai Bamboo uses high-quality fresh ingredients and keeps prices reasonable. Call 232-THAI (South), 444-THAI (Valley) or 777-THAI (North). (Reviewed 9/15/05, LM)
Spokane’s craving for Thai food seems to have been satisfied and well served at Thai Bamboo. The casual atmosphere offers a large menu of authentic and great tasting dishes. Whether you’re looking for a simple Phad Thai lunch or something a little more exotic, you’ll find it at Thai Bamboo. (DH)
Thai Bamboo. Each of the four regional Thai Bamboo locations offers a massive Southeast Asian menu in settings designed to transport you across the Pacific. Inside each restaurant you’ll find Thai stone and wood carvings, water fountains, Thai music and the namesake bamboo décor. Thai Bamboo keeps racking up #1 Best Thai votes in reader polls and both the newest location on North Division and the CDA restaurant feature a Tiki-Beach styled lounge and a striking sky ceilings in the main dining rooms. Think Vegas with phad thai. Open 7 days per week with delivery available. www.thaibamboorestaurant.com. $-$$