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Bellevue's Bamboo Garden Reopens as La Bu La With A Much-Improved Atmosphere

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Floor-to-ceiling windows and a new sit-down bar give more reason to trek East for Chinese.

La Bu La
La Bu La
Courtesy of La Bu La

Bamboo Garden, the beloved Chinese restaurant previously located next to an adult toy store in a Bellevue strip mall, quietly reemerged as La Bu La on April 25. Just feet from its former site, La Bu La is in the new Soma Towers development (288 106th Ave NE; Suite 200), where it trades the darkness of its previous cave-like locale for a light-filled dining experience, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. The ambiance is contemporary, but with classic Chinese touches, such as the antique chests scattered throughout the dining area, as well as the soldier statues towering above the bar.

Translating to "spicy not spicy," La Bu La opened with a new sit-down bar replete with expanded beer, wine, and cocktail options, and the same trusted food offerings from Bamboo Garden for the moment. While part of the menu deliberately appeals to diners who don't want to dabble in the typical heat of Sichuan cooking, true fans will want to turn to the popular "Walk on the Wild Side" menu, which basically takes the typically inaccessible Chinese language menu and makes it available—and appealing—to non-Chinese clientele. Favorites include "Fire Swimming Fish," "The Other Parts of a Pig," and the restaurant's most popular dish: "Chong Qing Hot Chicken" that's both numbing and spicy (ma la, in Chinese).

Bamboo Garden was noted as the area's best Sichuanese restaurant on Eater Seattle's Chinese map back in Septembera high honor since Sichuanese is the Chinese cuisine which Seattle does best. With improved atmosphere and service (as well as private dining options) added to its previously popular menu, La Bu La is even more of a destination-worthy drive from Seattle for Chinese food. And that's not even mentioning the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) coming to the menu in the weeks ahead...

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