With flavors as bright as its patio garden, Bambu Pan-Asian Cuisine is an unlikely oasis in an East Medford shopping plaza.
Aptly describing their gastronomical genre as "tropical," owners Adam and Veronica Ward cultivate an equatorial esthetic for Bambu's outdoor dining room, lushly planted with its namesake hollow-stemmed grass, a rainbow of annual blossoms and culinary herbs that infuse dishes with distinctive kaffir lime, Thai basil and mint.
The 10-year-old restaurant is worlds apart from its predecessor, Medford's second Asian Grill founded by Billy Harto. Lacking the traffic for Asian Grill's casual, quick-service model, Harto charged chef Adam Ward to reinvent the menu for upscale appeal before Ward and his wife, Veronica, assumed sole ownership five years ago.
"We just reworked the whole concept," says Veronica Ward.
Drawing on years of cooking at Harto's Thai Pepper in Ashland, Adam Ward transferred the restaurant's "tiger rolls," pad Thai and Thai-style curries to Bambu and added his own take on Pacific Rim cuisine from a short stint cooking in Hawaii. The islands introduced Ward to its spectrum of fish, including opakapaka, ono, escolar and tuna, which feature into nightly specials.