I’ve never really been much of a soup person, but the idea of a big bowl of broth into which you put your chosen raw food to cook at will has always been strangely appealing, so when I heard about Sym Bowl I was eager to try it. Months later I finally have and I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s small and cozy with a handful of tables but from the moment I walked in, there was a feeling of familiarity about the place and once I had the menu in front of me I quickly realised why.
Sym Bowl is under the same management as the former Bambu restaurant in Adliya. Many of you will remember the acid green landmark that was, before it was sadly shut down about a year or so ago, and fans of the place will look around and recognise the pictures on the walls and those distinctive square plates they used to use. Even more welcoming of a discovery is the fact that some of your old Bambu favourites are on the menu right here, so deciding what to eat was an easy task.
Crispy lemon chicken, beef in oyster sauce and salt and pepper prawns were a no brainer, the only challenge came when trying to decide what kind of hot pot to try. With a choice between, chicken, vegetable and beef bone broths (spicy, non-spicy or half and half), lamb, chicken or beef meats and a multitude of different vegetables, settling on exactly what proved a bit confusing. In the end though we went for chicken broth with mixed meats and veg (three of each) and sat back and waited for the feast to appear.
We didn’t have to wait long before a big bowl of hot broth was placed on a hot plate in front of us with small bowls of chopped garlic, ginger and spring onion and chilli sauce for us to season to taste. A few minutes later a large bowl piled high with paper thin slivers of meat and lots of fresh veg appeared and it was time dig in.
Did I love it? Honestly, I had mixed feelings. I thought the broth, even with the addition of the garlic, chilli and salt, was a little bland and I thought the meat could have been seasoned or marinated to add more flavour before cooking but, with that said, I did love the whole process of cooking it and the chilli and peanut dipping sauces for your cooked meat were very moreish indeed.
As for when the old favourites appeared, they were exactly as I remembered, the crispy chicken was crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside with a deliciously tangy lemon sauce coating it, the beef in oyster sauce is still the most tender beef of any restaurant I know and the salt and pepper mix prawns are still as perfect as ever. Yum, yum and yum!
Would I go back? In a heartbeat… and the fact that it’s very reasonably priced is just icing on the cake! It’s also worth noting that as I write this and check the receipt, this is the first restaurant in my almost 15 years of eating out here that doesn’t appear to have added any service charges at all! Makes me glad I left a tip!
The bill (for two) Mixed meat and veg chilli hot pot BD5.300 Crispy lemon chicken BD2.500 Salt and pepper prawns BD3.200 Beef in oyster sauce BD2.800 Egg fried rice BD1.500 Sprite x2 BD1.200 Fanta BD0.600 Total BD17.100
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com