Pan-Asian paradise

Fairborn’s JY Bamboo

By Paula Johnson

Photo: Tuna Tataki from JY Bamboo in Fairborn

Fairborn is an area of Dayton known for its ethnic cuisine. You’ll find Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese and Chinese restaurants in abundance there. And in the case of JY Bamboo, you’ll find all four under one roof. That’s what lunch buddy Alecia and I discovered when we tried it out recently. While JY’s menu offers selections from each of those cuisines, we quickly whittled our choices down to Vietnamese and Thai inspired dishes for our lunch entrees. Still we couldn’t resist a little Japanese with appetizers of Gyoza ($4.50) and Tuna Tataki ($10.50).

The Gyoza, mild pan-fried pork stuffed dumplings, were light and pleasant. We also found the Tataki quite good. The fish’s texture was soft and buttery, and it had an almost smoky flavor we liked a lot. The peppery exterior was nicely salty as well, and had a slight crunch. Both of these appetizers were a great start, and now it was time to assess JY Bamboo’s mastery of two classics: Pho and Massaman Curry.

What the pho?

When you eat pho you are eating a dish that might as well be the national dish of Vietnam for how ubiquitous it is in that country. Except there it’s almost always eaten at breakfast or very late at night. Pho is pronounced something like a cross between “fuh” and “few”, or like the French word for fire, feu. No surprise there because that’s where this dish comes from. It’s based on the French beef stew, pot au feu. During the time of the French occupation, beef was not eaten as cattle were used for farming. Native people ate chicken and pork almost exclusively. But the Vietnamese were influenced by French cooking, particularly their beef stews, and adapted them to their own cuisine. Thus Pho Bo was born. So what exactly is pho? It’s basically the original Cup O’ Noodles.

It’s a spicy sustaining one-bowl meal, with the soup broth simmered 5-12 hours. Made with fermented fish sauce and a host of spices including cinnamon, star anise, peppercorns, cloves and ginger, the broth is usually made with oxtails and marrow bones chunks of sliced brisket. (There’s also a chicken based version called Pho Ga for non-beefeaters). Often thin slices of raw beef are served along with accompanying condiments to be swished through the hot broth to cook and eat at the table.

And what else completes this bowl of savory goodness? Handfuls of cilantro (sometimes basil and chives), jalapeños, a squirt of lime juice, additional fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and sriracha to ramp up the heat. It’s the perfect way to tweak to your liking the Vietnamese balance of sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes. Thin rice noodles and onions swim in this soup and are slurped with abandon and fulfillment if it’s good. And JY Bamboo did an admirable job with their iteration of this classic.

Currying flavor

Alecia opted for Massaman Curry ($9.95) served with salad and rice. Good choice if you are unsure which of the many Thai curry options to try. In 2011 a CNN poll ranked Massaman curry as number one in an article titled “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.” Other curries come in varying degrees of hotness and are named for their colors: yellow, red and green. Yellow is the mildest with green the most potent. Massaman is more Indian in style, with its name most probably derived from the Arabic word for Muslim. More aromatic than fiery, this curry is made primarily from beef or chicken, never pork, likely due to the dish’s Muslim roots. (JY also offers a shrimp version). The curry’s flavor comes from a long list of spices, as well as cashews, lime, garlic, lemongrass and chilies. Alecia’s bowl was chock full of chunks of chicken, potato, pineapple and vegetables and was eaten with gusto.


With the ample amount of noodles, there was no way I could finish, so I took home the rest. Knowing in Vietnam pho is most typically eaten at breakfast, I tried it the next day. Seriously, this sweet, salty broth and slippery noodles were waaay better than a dry muffin. Soothing and renewing, the Vietnamese are definitely on to something with pho as a morning starter. When you go to JY Bamboo, plan on taking home some pho for breakfast. Or for a late night snack like the Vietnamese do if you can’t wait for the morning!

JY Bamboo is located at 609 North Broad St. in Fairborn. For more information, please call 937.754.9912 or visit jybambooasianrestaurant.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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