Ok folks, this is it. Bamboo Pizza. The scariest restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, and maybe the scariest I ever will eat at. Definitely it will be in the top ten I imagine. I rode by this place on my bike a couple times before I ate there and didn’t think it could be a real restaurant, it was either an empty storefront and/or it was named by someone who didn’t know what “pizza” means. There was no way that there could be a place called Bamboo Pizza really serving pizza. Turns out I was wrong.
Judging by this sunbleached poster thing in the front window, Bamboo Pizza has been serving slices for some time. The mystery (one of them at least, there are dozens of mysteries surrounding this place) is how are they selling enough of them to stay open.
Upon entering Bamboo Pizza, Steve and I saw a table of four old Asian gentlemen (Steve and I disagree on whether the proprieter and this group of gentlemen were Chinese or Vietnamese) and this terrifying hot food display. Being confronted with this filthy glass encasement, I began to feel panicky. There was no menu, and no sign of any food being made to order. This was it. It looked fucking scary. The pizza was unlike any pizza I’ve ever seen, it looked like a frozen pizza that had been reheated and reheated and reheated until the cheese and sauce began to congeal and become one entity. The potato wedges were glistening and wet. The baked chicken (you are so lucky I didn’t get a good picture of it) looked like the chicken they cook in Gone With the Wind during the war when they’re nearly out of food; scrawny and almost black, with skin drawn taut over bones. The fried chicken was not the color fried chicken should be. It was all just so wrong.
Steve ordered first because I was sort of in a state of shock. He got fried chicken and potatoes. I figured we might as well try everything they had, so I ordered the pizza and the baked chicken. I ended up getting fried chicken and potatoes. I don’t know if this was due to there being a language barrier, or if the dude just recognized that I really didn’t want to eat that pizza. Our lunches (plus drinks, Steve had a coffee and I got a Tiki Punch) totalled up to eight dollars. EIGHT DOLLARS. A quarter of a chicken for two dollars. Potatoes for one dollar. Drinks, at one dollar each, were the most expensive things in the place. It was mental.
Ugh, looking at this picture of what I ate is turning my stomach. Look at those potatoes, my god! I know you want a close up:
So, the thing is this food wasn’t TERRIBLE. Hear me out. It wasn’t good, certainly, the chicken was very salty and pretty tough and the potatoes…well the potatoes were pretty disgusting. Intensely greasy, odd tasting and unevenly cooked, sometimes mushy sometimes crunchy, like an apple. But the point is that nothing tasted rotten or putrid. Everything tasted like it wasn’t fresh, but not like it had gone bad. Well, everything except for the ketchup. I started off dipping my potatoes in it, but noticed it was very sour and sort of effervescent. I said to Steve, hey I think that ketchup is starting to go off, and he said, really? as he squirted more onto his plate. Guess which of us ended up with a stomach ache later?
The reason I couldn’t finish my food (or even my Tiki Punch!) was that I was so grossed out by the scary filthiness of the restaurant that I couldn’t stop thinking about it everytime I would bring a morsel to my mouth. They even had a disgusting dirty TV-VCR set up on which they were showing some video of a concert or something.
One of those videos was titled “Jekyll and Hyde Together Again” which sounds pretty great.
There was a lot of weirdness going on while we were there. To begin with, the four old dudes were there when we got there and still there when we left, showing no sign of budging. They weren’t eating, they were playing cards but displayed no evidence that they were gambling. Several people came in to buy food, not homeless people, but certainly very poor people. That’s how we learned that slices of that gnarly pizza cost only one dollar. One lady came in, we didn’t really pay that much attention to her at first because we thought she was just getting food. She got my attention when she started very loudly talking about how someone had jumped out a window up the street on Ellis. Then she left, with no food, but Steve insists that he saw money change hands between her and the proprietor. So what else is this dude selling? Also strange; a refrigerator like an ice cream display, about waist level with a sliding door on top, with what looked like old Jug Wine jugs full of what looked like olives. I didn’t notice until we were leaving that there seemed to be a sandwich prep area in the back with a giant jar of peanut butter on it. So the point is I have no idea what is going on with this place. I just know that I never want to go back, and I recommend you avoid it at all costs.
Their Yelp Page (two reviews! amazing!)