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“Poor communications”
Review of The Bamboo

The Bamboo
Ranked #413 of 634 Restaurants in Oxford
Cuisines: Korean
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Oxford
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
35 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Poor communications”
Reviewed April 16, 2013

I went here for lunch today to see what it was like. I was promptly shown to a table and brought a menu (with pictures, which helped a lot, as I am not used to Korean food). I ordered a bowl of beef and seaweed soup, and prawns with rice for a main course. I noticed many Korean-looking customers, this must be a good sign.

After a bit of a wait, a waitress brought me two bowls of pickled cabbage. I was not sure if these were a freebie, or a garnish for the soup, or maybe they _were_ the soup. So I waited for someone to ask, and had a few nibbles of the cabbage.

Then another waitress brought the prawns, with no rice, and without asking took away the pickled cabbage, which I had eaten maybe a third of. I complained, and asked about my soup. I don't think she understood anything I said, and she went off with the cabbage. I managed to speak to another waitress, and asked for a menu, to check that what I had ordered was really soup and not cabbage: it was. I started to eat the rice-less prawns.

Then a waitress brought the soup, with a lot of apologies, "sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry". She sounded sincere, but I don't know what she was apologising for - forgetting the soup, or bringing the cabbage, or failing to anticipate my strange wish to eat the starter before the main course.

The seaweed and beef soup would not, I think, be to the taste of most English diners. It was quite salty, and the seaweed was, I think, real seaweed, not the dried cabbage that many Chinese restaurants serve as "seaweed". But I was pleased to experience real Korean cuisine, and I did enjoy it.

When I was near the end of my soup, a waitress brought the rice to go with my prawns, with no explanation or apologies. The prawns themselves were excellent.

The soup was listed as £3.60, and the prawns with rice as £11.80, so you might expect the total to be £15.40. But the bill, written in Korean, showed it as £19.14. Normally I would have contested it; but with so few of the staff speaking English, I could see this would be difficult, so I grudgingly paid it.

I recommend avoiding Bamboo unless you can go there with a Korean-speaking friend. Or maybe wait for a few months - by then, they will either have hired some English-speaking staff (and taught them to serve the right dishes in the right order), or gone out of business.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank maproom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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144 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    36
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Wrexham, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“Authentic Korean food... BUT...”
Reviewed April 15, 2013

Right let me start off by saying that I lived in Seoul for over a year and ate a great deal of Korean food there. The food we ate in The Bamboo was very authentic indeed and tasted exactly like the same food one would order in Korea. The bibimbap was delicious and the bulgogi was very tasty.

But...

This place is an unorganised, baldy run shambles for the following reasons:

*They are only open for Lunch (when we went) between 12 and 3. We saw over ten groups of people turned away up until when we left at 3:30. Do they not want to make money?
*The toilets were dirty and contained no loo roll.
*The menu contains no explanation of the food whatsoever. If somebody was trying Korean food for the first time, they wouldn't know what to order!
*No itemised bill
*The atmosphere was non existent.
*Staff were just sat around doing nothing! (Which in fact, reminded me very much of most restaurants in Seoul)
*The decor was a mess (a statue of a naked woman!?)
*It was needlessly 'grand' and just looks ridiculous

I could go on, but I won't.

I really hope the owner is reading this (안녕하세요!) because I have the following suggestions-

*Make the place a "Seoul cafe" or something similar for Lunch. Turn it into a student and tourist friendly place that serves the food in a quirky way.
*Put some music on!
*Clean the toilets!
*Redesign the menu
*Don't turn away paying customers!

The owner won't listen though and, as I came to learn during my time in Korea, they won't change a thing. The Bamboo could be a huge money spinner! Korean food is (apparently) the next big thing!

I'll probably go back to Oxford in a year or so, but I won't go to Bamboo. It will have closed down due to the incompetent running of the place!

But the food was good!

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
14 Thank danhux
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oxford, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“A very regrettable evening”
Reviewed April 14, 2013

We like trying and generally enjoy different cuisine and culture. We ordered the meal for two thinking this might be a good example of traditional Korean food. The menus where confusing and we were unable to find a member of staff who was able to explain exactly what the dishes were. The plates of food arrived in a haphazard order and most of these were cold, again the serving staff did not appear to understand are questions and we were left to start are meal wondering if there was an order to the food or even if there had been a mistake in the ordering or the cooking as nothing seemed to taste remotely pleasant . The vegetable dishes where unknown to me and tasted very bitter, the broth (which looked and tasted like a seaside rock pool )contained over boiled beef .
Try As I might ,I was unable to find anything enjoyable about the food and much of it remained uneaten despite my hunger. The rice we ordered did not arrive despite it being added to the bill along with a service charge. If the price had been lower I would have been happy to pay and put it down to experience, however the amount was even greater than the menu suggested and we asked the manager if he could adjust it downwards. He made no effort to apologise or explain, but agreed not to charge us for the rice we had not had and reduced the service charge marginally.
I would not wish this experience on anyone as a little explanation could have resolved the issue, instead we left feeling both upset and hungry.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
5 Thank Gavin W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Very disappointing - will not return.”
Reviewed April 14, 2013

We decided to try this new restaurant at our end of town as we were interested in sampling Korean cuisine and like to try new things. We were very disappointed in our experience and left the restaurant hungry as the food was very unappetising.

Here are the main points that explain why we have rated this restaurant "terrible". We have never given this rating before and are generally pretty easy to please. The good things are the location and the general layout and eating environment.

Food - We ordered the set meal for 2 as we thought this would be a good way of sampling food that we were not familiar with and have found, in previous situations, that the dishes on set menus are designed to be typical examples of the cuisine. There was quite a lot of food but the flavour and quality was very poor. We had a pork dish that looked promising but the meat turned out to be very fatty so not appetising at all, a savoury pancake which was tasteless, a soup with some leaves in it that tasted like salty water and was cold, a kind of vegetable and beef broth that came with a burner which actually caused it to boil over at one point onto the table. It also just tasted like salt and the beef seemed like it had been boiling away for hours in it.
We do accept that it might be that Korean food is not to our taste but is it all supposed to just taste like salty water or of nothing?

Attitude of manager - we tried all the food but decided we really didn't want to eat it (very unlike us!!) - see "food" above. We asked to see the manager to discuss this and explained, politely our concerns and disappointment. He didn't apologize and just shrugged his shoulders saying that they use good quality meat and gestured to us that the restaurant was full. I asked what he suggested we do about the bill given the fact that we were not happy and were leaving hungry. He just said we needed to pay. We had to ask to have the price of the rice removed (as we'd not had it). We ended up paying him just £1 less than the total bill, and no service charge. His attitude appeared rude, he didn't provide a receipt. All very disappointing.

Service - Food arrived in dribs and drabs and staff seemed very rushed and hassled - no one told us what anything was and there was no distinction between which were part of the starter course and which was the main. It seemed like the waiting staff were not expected to interact with us - simply bring stuff to our table. This felt uncomfortable as we are used to building a bit of rapport with front of house staff.
We ordered rice but it didn't come although we were charged for it.
We asked for water several times before it was delivered to our table.
None of the staff were able to take our order which must have been a bit frustrating for them - and was for us! Only the manager was able to do this it would appear.

Bill - We were charged for rice which we had ordered but it never arrived. There was also a service charge added but we only knew that from the fact that it added up to more than the total ordered. It was all written in another language so we couldn't check it.

They were only able to take cash payments - apparently due to a machine breakdown. This is understandable and there was a sign on the door but added to everything else was a further irritation.

Menus - these were rather scruffy which seemed a bit odd given that the restaurant has just newly opened. The food menu was confusing (which is partly why we just went for the set meal). The drinks menu was badly written and not well organised.

Loos - The ladies and gents loos needed attention. The men's loos had a blocked sink, no hot water and no soap. The ladies had lots of water splashed around the sink area which was once varnished wood but had seen better days.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
4 Thank Louise W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
191 reviews
83 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“Unprofessional and against the law”
Reviewed April 11, 2013

Hoping to get a good Korean experience ended up in a huge disappointment. The only good thing was the food, but everything else was terrible:

The worst thing: The owner/manager made us pay the service charge without any legal rights.
By law if a service charge is added to the bill, but not presented anywhere before, you can refuse to pay it. That is what we did in this case.
However, the manager came to our table and insisted on us paying the service charge by stating that ALL restaurants in Oxford would do the same. After 10min discussion that let to nowhere we decided to leave half of the service charge. On our way out, the owner blocked the door telling that he would let us go if we paid the full amount, but his arguments were ridiculous: "I gave you the best table etc...".
To avoid any further trouble we paid the rest and all agreed to NEVER visit the restaurant again and we will not recommend it to anyone.
Here are the reasons for the poor service:

- The menu is confusing, has spelling mistakes and under "desserts" you will find set menus
- The drinks menu looks outdated and from a cheap take-away
- Only the manager can take orders, as he is the only one who can write Korean for the kitchen staff. How can you open a restaurant with the belief that one man could take orders for the whole restaurant? The restaurant was full....
- No one explains you anything about the restaurant or gives recommendations for food
- All service staff has a great lack of understanding
- The kitchen chef came into the restaurant area twice to shout at one of the employees
- One waitress was crying
- The bill is written in Korean
- The amount on the total bill was miscalculated (too high) - we had to calculate ourselves to find that out
- We did not get any copy of the bill
- There is no information about VAT, service charges or anything else on the menu/bill

If you open a restaurant you should at least have a BASIC service understanding. This was the worst experience we ever had. They can serve good food, but if the service, organisation and management remain that poor, they should come to a decision about their future existence.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
7 Thank Y_and_M12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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