Istana Bambu @ Ampang

August 2, 2010

It was the concept that first sold us on this tough-to-find place, but thankfully, the food turned out to be better than expected.

Here's the hook: set amid a specially designed paddy field, Istana Bambu is built mainly from bamboo and "natural" construction material. It's a spacious venue that welcomes everyone from families and young couples to the occasional celebrity (hi, Siti Nurhaliza!).

Miraculously, no mosquitoes troubled us throughout dinner. Another plus point: even on a rain-free evening, it wasn't warm or humid at all (there were plenty of ceiling fans).

Salted egg yolk squid. Practically flawless. The squid was springy without being chewy, while the egg coating was rich and thick without being cloying. Best eaten hot, since it can become somewhat soggy after 10-15 minutes.

Flower crabs steamed with egg white. Reasonably meaty and juicy crustaceans, considering the species. And as fresh as can be, since this restaurant deals in live crabs.

Siamese-style fried chicken with mango stuffing. A fun recipe; the batter was crisp, the chicken was succulent and the sauce was tangy, but what took everything to the next level were the soft, perfectly ripe slices of mangoes inside.

Dry butter prawns. Pretty satisfying, thanks to tiger prawns that were plump and juicy.

Kerabu tang hoon. Not bad; there were lots of mixed seafood in this healthy-tasting preparation. But it kinda lacked the memorable piquancy often associated with this recipe.

Fried crispy beef, drenched in an addictive sweet and savory dressing.

"Three-taste" siakap. Fortunately, none of the flavors in this mildly spicy, sweet and sour sauce overpowered the fish, which tasted pleasant enough to recommend.

Pandan coconut drinks. One is never enough.

Be prepared to wait about 20-30 minutes for the food though. But that's the kitchen's fault; otherwise, service is friendly and fairly efficient.

Prices are slightly high but still reasonable. This meal cost RM225 and could feed four.

Istana Bambu,
Lot 841, Jalan Hulu Kelang,
Tel: 4251-4717