To say Bamboo Express in Blundell Centre knows their customers and how to treat them well would be an understatement.
After all, the family-owned and operated restaurant has been serving family-style, Chinese cuisine for the past three decades, which is a testament to its enduring popularity and commitment of owners Sandy and Raymond Rao, who have been guiding the business since 2009.
“We have customers coming back 30 years later,” says Amy Rao, general manager at Bamboo Express. “And they talk about how they used to come in back when the restaurant was new and how they grew up eating here.”
So, what’s been the secret to its long-term success?
“I think part of the reason is the family environment built by Sandy and Raymond,” Rao says. “Like Sandy, she knows all of her customers.
“Once they come inside, she automatically knows their usual order. It’s like the restaurant has this big, extended family of customers.”
But it’s also the willingness to embrace new customers and their dietary needs, which has proved to be a hit.
“Customers, especially the new ones, come in because we are very lenient with the customization and modifying of their orders,” Rao says.
“In the last few years, we’ve had a lot of people asking for gluten-free or vegan meals. We try our best to cater to their tastes and requirements.
“Essentially, we give them what they really want to eat, even if it’s not on the menu.”
Sometimes, that willingness to be flexible has resulted in repeat orders of the customized dish, leading it to become an addition to the “unofficial” Bamboo Express menu.
“We are actually in the process of making a new menu, and there are some opportunities to, perhaps, add custom dishes because we are willing to be so lenient,” Rao says.
That kind of client care does not go unnoticed.
“Customers are really appreciative of what we do to accommodate them,” Rao says. “They realize how difficult it can be to work around someone’s needs. And they trust us because we listen to them.”
Among the most popular dishes currently on the menu include Japanese-style chicken chow mein, lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, beef with broccoli, and honey garlic ribs.
“Pan-fried rice noodle with beef has also recently become a really popular dish,” Rao adds. “And it’s one of my favourites, too.”
For the more adventurous foodie, there’s fried garlic squid with spicy salt, and fried garlic tofu, also with spicy salt.
“Those are super popular,” Rao says.
Located between Kin’s Market and Cobb’s Bread, Bamboo Express is open for lunch and dinner throughout the week, except for Sundays and Mondays, when they are open from 4 - 9 p.m.
For more information and a complete menu listing, check out the Bamboo Express website at bambooexpress.ca.