Bamboo Hut still dishes fresh, fast flavor

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Why:Bamboo Hut has resided next to Fred Meyer in Salmon Creek for 14 years. The restaurant's focus is Asian-influenced dishes on a menu refined by diners' preferences over the years. Chicken and vegan pho were recently added.

Atmosphere: The restaurant has a well-established feel to it and is suitable for a quick lunch stop (solo or as a group), or casual family dining.

Colors are light, creating a bright atmosphere, and seating offers both booth and table dining. Condiments and tableware are help-yourself, as are bottled beverages.

What I tried: To start, my dining companion and I decided on the Saigon rolls with chicken and the vegan spring rolls. He chose the coconut shredded chicken for his entrée and I had the lemongrass soy chicken. We also sampled the vegan pho.

The Saigon rolls held stir-fried vegetables, basil, crushed peanuts and char-grilled chicken wrapped in rice paper. The serving was two large rolls cut in half, with hoisin sauce topped with crushed peanuts. The deep-fried vegan spring rolls contained cabbage, carrots, taro and tofu, and were served with a sweet chili sauce for dipping. Both appetizers were made with fresh ingredients and were delicious, but I particularly enjoyed the Saigon rolls, in which the flavor of each ingredient stood out more than the flavors in the deep-fried spring rolls.

The pho was about a half-and-half mix of noodles and broth with tofu (both silken squares and deep-fried wedges) incorporated. The traditional soup was topped with green onions and a few slices of red onion. It was served with a plate of fresh basil and bean sprouts, and with hot and sweet sauces to add in.

Both chicken entrées were assembled with the chicken atop a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce and rice noodles. My dining companion's was garnished with shredded carrots, cucumber sticks, cilantro and mint. The charbroiled chicken had a generous amount of a sweet house-made coconut sauce. My companion found the dish very much to his liking and said he would definitely order it again. The chicken on my entrée was prepared in extremely thin slices, stir-fried and topped with a light sprinkle of crushed peanuts. Its distinctive fragrant lemongrass flavor overwhelmed any trace of chicken flavor.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: The bean thread soup sounded delicious. Bamboo Hut serves an oriental chicken salad made with chicken, lettuce, tomato, and onion, served with a house special vinaigrette dressing. It's a bit simpler than you might find elsewhere. Salmon and prawns are included on the menu as well.

Other observations: Orders are placed and paid for upon arrival and delivered to the table. This makes for a convenient departure when you are done dining.

Although Bamboo Hut is 14 years old, it still has a clean, fresh appearance.

I found the service friendly and courteous. Take-out is available.

Cost: Appetizers cost $4.25 to $7.25. Soups, salads, and wraps are $4.75 to $7.50. Tofu and soy chicken dishes cost $4 to $8.25. Charbroiled chicken entrées start at $5.25 and top out at $8.25; you may make these a combo for an additional $1.50, which adds your choice of a spring or salad roll. Salmon and vegetables cost $8.75 or $9.50, and prawns and vegetables cost $8.25 to $9, depending on the starch accompaniment.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Telephone: 360-574-1351

Where: 800 N.E. Tenney Road, Vancouver.

Health score: Bamboo Hut received a score of 8 on Jan. 21. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.