Kitty & Eva, Owners of Bamboo Asian House
by Misty C. Lee
Surely, Kitty and Eva are as busy as two co-owners can be at the beginning of lunchtime, in a town where their Asian menu has a strong word-of-mouth following, which brings along with it, repeat customers happy to eat at Bamboo several times a week. Sunny and with a relaxed demeanor, the two ladies work while they talk, but aren’t too busy to hug a longtime customer.
“All we do is from our hearts,” Kitty says, smiling. “We don’t just have a business, and it’s not just customers. We make friends.”
Growing up in China, the two business partners became childhood friends as youngsters, going to school together, then later becoming kindergarten teachers. At the time, though, the economy wasn’t thriving, and they both knew that they couldn’t have the life they dreamed about in China. At different times and under different circumstances, life brought the two women to the United States – first Kitty, in 2001, and later, Eva, in 2005.
Eva moved with her family to Jacksonville, and ten years ago she and another co-owner opened Sake Asian Fusion, a popular Japanese restaurant serving sushi rolls and soba noodles. When she was ready to open a new business in Swansboro, Eva called Kitty. “I needed a partner,” Eva says. The two friends had remained in contact through the years, and it seemed natural for Eva to reach out to her friend. Kitty also had a dream of owning a restaurant and was open to new adventures.
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Bamboo Asian House opened in Swansboro in May 2017. This morning, two chefs, including Kitty’s husband, are busy at work behind the sushi counter, preparing everything from the Angel Roll to the Swansboro Roll to Tom Yam Soup. Finding and using the freshest seafood and highest quality ingredients is their goal every day, Eva says. “We want fresh everything,” Kitty says. “We don’t mind paying our suppliers more. We want good quality and good service.”
“Every day we have a truck coming in,” Eva says. “Some places have trucks twice a week, but we have trucks come every day so we can have the freshest seafood.”
“A lot of customers, they tell us we have the best quality, that it’s the best there is,” Kitty says.
A narrow vase sits at the corner of the table in the front of the house, where a healthy-looking shoot of green bamboo is growing. It represents “always growing,” Kitty says. Hence, the restaurant’s namesake.
“I hope we can have a little tree and it grows bigger and bigger and bigger,” Kitty says. “Right, Eva?”
“We have good dreams,” Eva agrees.
Misty C. Lee is a long-time local Onslow County resident and freelance writer. Photos by Onslow County Tourism.