Former Blue Moon chef/owner Lion Gardner, along with Tyler Townsend and Bob Suppies from The Pines & Aqua Grill have opened their second downtown fine dining venture. Their first was DRIFT, getting rave reviews in the totally renovated old Seafood Shack building on Baltimore.
Bodhi is in the old Canyon's/Twigs/Lily Thai/Dos Locos/Square One spot next door to the original Nicola's (now hosting Downtown Blues). It's called Bodhi, and it's not only quite beautiful inside, but their Asian street food concept appears to be a hit. Our first visit was quite a success.
Our party of 4 started with the Pork Belly Steam Bun (pork belly very nicely done without any fatty chewiness). Cucumber and pickled onion added a nice textural element to each bite. The filling of the Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps is absolutely delicious, but if I had one gripe it would be that they provide more firm lettuce to make it easier to pick up the wraps. Maybe that was just a one-time thing, but the single lettuce leaf wasn't enough to keep the filling from falling out all over one's paws.
We also got the Hong Kong Shrimp Toast. What an interesting presentation! We really likes the bite-size pieces and it made it easier for sharing. The Chinese Hot Mustard on the side certainly lives up to its name. I loved it.
Thai food fans will love the Pad Thai. We got it with the chicken. Tamarind imparts a very slight sweetness that's nicely offset by the cilantro, lime and chili. This one's a must-get. Being fans of Lowcountry cuisine, we couldn't pass up the Southern Thai Fried Chicken. Of course they're referring to southern Thailand, but who are we to be picky!? This dish was also a home run. Crunchy pieces of fried chicken cavort with shallots, chili and perfectly cooked jasmine rice.
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Feeling frisky? Get the Forbidden Rice Pudding for dessert. Looking somewhat strange when it arrived at the table, its secrets were revealed as soon as we started digging in to reveal toasted macadamia nuts, coconut and mango. We also got the Yuzu Ice Box Pie. Think Key Lime Pie but with a bit of an attitude. A pretzel crust hugs pistachios and white chocolate.
We couldn't pass up the Seared Korean Flat Iron steak. Brightly decorated with kim chi and pomegranate ssamjang (a spicy sauce made from soybeans) it also cuddled up to that great jasmine rice. The streak arrived perfectly to temperature. Kudos to the chef.
The bar program is headed up by none other than Ben Winiarczyk (don't panic: win-ee-AIR-check). This guy whipped the bar into shape just up the road at Theo's, then did the same thing next door to Theo's at the new Drift. When the Drift group decided to create Bodhi, Ben was the obvious choice. Wait 'til you see the cocktails! We thoroughly enjoyed the Quiet Mediterranean (cool-as-a-cucumber forward), and out Old Fashioned fan loved the East Meets West which of course starts with Maker's but rapidly goes Asian with Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky.
In-season hours 5 – 10 Mon, Tues, Thurs., 10-2 and 5-10 on Sundays, and 11:30 to 11 on Fridays and Saturdays. So far, reservations are an absolute must. Call them at (302) 567-2129 for that and to find out off-season hours.