EatDrinkJax.com interviews Dennis Chan, head chef and owner of Blue Bamboo.
11. Can you recommend a few other dishes that will give people a sense of what Blue Bamboo is all about?
There's another dish that is my favorite dish on the menu - we call it the Peachy Chicken and Waffles. It's a knife and fork version of chicken and waffles. Back when we first put this on the menu I thought it was such a cool combination of savory and sweet. Originally, people weren't as open to it as they are now. Today many restaurants in town serve the combination with their own twists. It's been on our menu for almost 5 years but I almost didn't have the nerve to put it on our menu. I took a trip to LA, to a restaurant known for its chicken and waffles. It was only after I experienced their classic version that I had the confidence to put it on our menu with our own twist. We use a whole boneless chicken breast with Japanese bread crumbs, add our own peach compote, and put it all on top of a buttermilk waffle. To finish off the dish, we take some crispy, thin-cut egg roll wrappers and coat them with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar to give the dish just the perfect balance of savory-sweet, with wonderful varying textures.
12. Did you start with the idea of creating your own chicken and waffles recipe?
At the time, I was intrigued by the flavor combination. In true Blue Bamboo fashion, it evolved. To make it our own we added a peach compote and the cinnamon crisps.
13. Why is it your favorite dish on the menu?
I really like the combination of salty and sweet. I haven't ever had anyone order that dish who hasn't had fun with their food or fun with life.
14. Are there any dishes you have that you think are really good but people have been hesitant or slower to try out?
When we first opened many people were afraid of lamb and duck because those two meats seemed pretty foreign. Things have evolved now to the point that these are two of our most popular menu items. We use the best in quality - Maple Leaf farmed duck from Indiana and New Zealand lamb. Some people have had bad experiences with those meats elsewhere but the quality of what we start with really shows through to the end product. Those are two very delicious dishes on our menu. We see people who keep coming back and they get hooked on those dishes.
15. What is it that gets them hooked?
It's pretty much the story of everything that we do. If you start with good quality ingredients the end result is that much better. Our lamb racks are New Zealand lamb that we grill with just salt and pepper and a little bit of specially blended powdered curry mix for seasoning. We then glaze the lamb with a mixture of honey and soy just as it's finishing cooking, to give it a little sweetness. That sweet, along with the curry, brings out and complements the natural flavor of lamb really well.
16. Have you seen many big changes in attitudes or approaches to food since you've been open?
I tell you, the Food Network has been a blessing to restaurateurs like us who really want to do something different and contemporary. People who watch the Food Network and these cooking shows - it's their way of getting educated about what we do. It has created a whole new generation of people who are food savvy. Travel also plays a big part in exposing people to different cuisines. I had someone come in last week who asked us if we made hand pulled noodles. I have had those before but because of the economics of it we're not able to do that here. Just the fact that I was able to connect with this guest because I could talk about the best hand pulled noodle experience I've had and he shared with me his best experience - that's one of the big reasons I love what I do - because I'm able to share and talk with people about their experiences, and connect with them that way.