Bamboo House

Chinese restaurant that was at 249 London Road, corner of Langdale Avenue, from 1960 to December 2021.

From the Daily Mirror, 8th April, 1965

The Chop Suey Revolution

In a thousand heated cellars all over Britain bean shoots are being grown.

About every five days, they are cut and cooked in Chinese restaurants to help feed the traditional fish-and-chips Englishman who has been contentedly swept into the chop suey revolution.

These been shoots threaten not only the traditional fish and chips. They can – added by today’s frightening meat prices – strike a blow at the equally traditional steak and chips market.

For years London has had its famous and expensive Chinese restaurants.

Now “eating Chinese” is sweeping not only London suburbia but the whole of the provinces – with restaurants which have the strange quality of being strictly classless.

In them you will find the bank manager, the solicitor, the dock worker, hungry teenagers and busy housewives all trying this new value-for-money way of eating.

There are nearly 2,000 Chinese restaurants in England today. There are 400 concentrated in the Midlands, 100 within a 40 mile radius of Manchester.

Why this chop suey revolution?

The immediate, but not the only, answer is that they are cheap, almost ridiculously cheap.

Where, outside the Chinese restaurant, can you get a delicious, satisfying, three-course meal, plus tea or coffee,
for as little as 4s. 6d., with no service charge.

Where, except in a Chinese restaurant, can you get a huge plateful of exquisite food, served on an immaculate tablecloth, in pleasant surroundings, for 3s.?

How can the Chinese provide meals so cheaply?

One of the reasons is the entirely different approach of the Chinese towards eating.

They rarely use any meat except pork and chicken. But these are so deliciously served with wonderfully flavoured vegetables – bean shoots, spring onions, tomatoes, celery, bamboo shoots, spinach and white cabbage – that nobody misses the traditional steak.

Then, of course, many restaurants save on labour costs, operating on a family basis.

It is not unusual to find grandparents, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law and cousins, all working together with no regard for working hours, wages or days off.

A wonderful example of this is in a modest Chinese restaurant in Mitcham, Surrey.

Here, in the “Bamboo House,” 45-year-old Mr. Pui Cheung opens seven days a week with members of his family as his chief assistants.

Mr. Cheung arrived in England eleven years ago by boat from Hong Kong with very little money in his pocket, and for six years he worked in restaurant kitchens and then as a waiter.

Five years ago he risked his savings and got a mortgage to open his Chinese restaurant.

Today he has paid off his mortgage and is saving hard to expand.

He regularly serves more than 300 4s. 6d. lunches between midday and 3 p.m.

He employs an 18-year-old boy, Lai Fong, solely to look after and grow fresh bean shoots from seed in huge wooden tubs in an immaculate transformed coal cellar.

He told me: “I often use 100lb. bean shoots on Saturday nights alone, and I can only keep pace with the demand by growing them on the premises.”

Most Chinese restaurants do the same — it’s handier and cheaper than buying outside.

The popularity and standard of food values can be judged by the fact that local housewives now collect Mr. Cheung’s three-course 4s. 6d. meals to take home for the family.

Shiu-King, the owner’s strikingly good-looking wife, supervises the kitchen. His elder son Ching Kwong is her deputy, his daughter-in-law, Choi King, is a waitress, his 21-year-old son Yick Kwan is the deputy chef and his 19-year-old daughter Oi-ling, is a waitress.

Inflation adjusted, four shillings and sixpence in 1965 is around £4 in 2016.

From the local Guardian, 30th March 2010

A pioneer of Asian cuisine in London, who opened Mitcham’s first Chinese restaurant, has died.

Pui Cheung was the owner of the Bamboo House in London Road. He was born in Hong Kong but later moved to Shanghai where he married his wife Siu King.

His grandson, Paul Cheung, said: “It was truly a family business as all concerned have helped change the way people dine out on Chinese food.”

Mr Cheung, who had four children, died on March 3 at the age of 90. A service to mark his life was held on March 18 in Morden.

From their Facebook Page on 8th December 2021:

Dear Customers,

Since 1960, Bamboo Restaurant has had the pleasure of serving you fresh and authentic Chinese cuisine.

We regret to inform you that our last day of business will be Christmas Eve, Friday 24th December 2021. We apologise for the short notice. Due to the expiry of our lease, we will have to close earlier than intended. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you — our wonderful customers — for all of your loyalty and support over the last 20 years under our management.

Our opening hours will remain the same until we close. Please call or email us to make a booking.

We wish you all the best for this Christmas & the coming new year and we hope to see you all before we close our doors for the last time.

Kind regards,

Peter, Paula, Linda, Nigel and everyone else at Bamboo Restaurant.

2 thoughts on “Bamboo House

  1. Leslie Karen

    this brings back real memories, we used to eat there often, we used to call the owners son John and we were always welcomed by him saying number one son, number two son number one daughter number two daughter and number three daughter, Mr John and Mrs Freda, We used to love having the fixed price dinners as a birthday treat or a celebration. When my mum was pregnant and had to rest and we couldn’t get to the restaurent John told us to bring large saucepans over from Glebe Court and he would fill them up with Chinese food and then we could take it home and eat it. We always said we started the first Chinese takeaway. Lovely food, I’m sure it was something like 2s6d for the set meal probably late 50s early 60s. The best Chinese food ever, live too far away to try it again


    1. Rosie Mann

      How lovely to read the 1965 newspaper piece about Bamboo House where I have enjoyed meals since it opened in the 60’s and whenever I visit Mitcham. It was always busy and I used to love their fried crispy noodles. The food is still always good and in my humble opinion it is the best Chinese restaurant for miles around. I just wish I could get there more often.



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