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Pan-Asian Chain Bamboo Asia Is Growing With Help From Caviar’s Founders

The brand is planning a fast expansion with new locations all served by one centralized kitchen

Bamboo Asia/Facebook

At Bamboo Asia’s two downtown locations, Vietnamese, Indian, and Japanese food has more than a common continent of origin: It all arrives from a centralized kitchen in Oakland. Bamboo Asia’s dishes like a shaking beef bowl are prepared there, then sent in vacuum-sealed bags to be cooked by sous-vide machines at their restaurants. Those are located at 41 Montgomery Street and, as of last month, 98 7th Street.

“We want to really separate the restaurant from the kitchen,” says owner Sebastian Van De Rijt, describing his philosophy.

Opening Bamboo Asia’s new second location was fast and easy — words seldom said in the context of building a restaurant. But without a full kitchen, the new spot took just three weeks to assemble.

“All we need are three service stations, counters, and our sous-vide machines,” says Van De Rijt. “We’re very efficient.”

Next up: A third location is coming to California Street (to an as-yet undisclosed address) and a fourth to Downtown Oakland’s Clorox building.

Beyond low upstart costs and a centralized kitchen (which can serve up to 12 Bamboo Asia branches) the restaurant’s growth spurt stems, in part, from an influx of capital. The founders of delivery app Caviar, who sold their company to Square, recently invested in Bamboo Asia — which was, incidentally, one of the first restaurants to use Caviar when it launched.

Bamboo Asia’s tagline is “Far East flavors with West Coast Vibes.” There’s tandoori roti, sunny Saigon salad, and tempura shrimp rolls prepared with local ingredients and sustainable meat and seafood by Erik Hopfinger (a restaurant consultant and 2008 Top Chef contestant).

But the company is developing something beyond cuisine: A custom inventory management platform.

“We have over 200 raw goods we manage on a daily basis, we can’t do that on just excel spreadsheets,” Van De Rijt says.

In the future, that technology might be the restaurant’s secret sauce: Van de Rijt says he could even bottle it and sell it to other restaurateurs.

Stay tuned for more on the restaurant’s upcoming locations and its plans for further growth.

Bamboo Asia

41 Montgomery Street, SF, CA