Restaurant Review: Bam Bam, Vietnamese Cajun At Houston Bush Airport (IAH)

Airport food is a mixed bag at best.  There are plenty of really bad options.  Lately, there are many new options that LOOK good but really aren’t anything special.  With a longer than normal layover in Houston (at IAH), I figured I’d test out one of those newer options to see if the food quality matched the look.

OTG is a big operator of airport concessions.  A number of my fellow frequent travelers don’t like their offerings.  I’ve had both good experiences and bad.  I actually had the opportunity to walk through the new C terminal OTG offerings before they even opened, getting an unexpected tour from an OTG executive.  I was curious to see if the food matched the look.

One of the most interesting options was Bam-Bam, a Vietnamese Cajun concept.  When I think of Vietnamese and Cajun, it’s not really a “peanut butter and chocolate” kind of marriage for me.  When I approached the restaurant to look at the menu, I noticed a small grab and go area in front.  It featured a few things you might find on Bourbon Street along with normal offerings like bottled water.

The menu looked appealing.  I was looking forward to trying the wonton egg drop soup.  The OTG concept is one where you select your own seat.  The counters might be a bit of an awkward spot if everything is fill.  They remind me a bit of the lunch counter at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station.  There’s an iPad at every seat to place your order.  Unless you have a question, you won’t see a server until they start bringing your food.  It turns out I would have a question pretty quickly.

The first thing the app asks is to scan your boarding pass.  I assume this is so they can make sure you have enough time to dine.  I had plenty of time, and don’t love dumping personal information on random devices (call me crazy), so I chose the “Skip” option below.

The menu flow was intuitive and I was quickly able to walk through the different categories.  I just couldn’t find that soup.  I hit the help button and a server was there in less than a minute.  She told me the soup had been removed from the menu but they just couldn’t figure out how to remove it from the digital sign board.  Bummer.


I settled on a bowl of gumbo and crawfish fried rice.  I didn’t specifically avoid the hardcore Vietnamese items on the menu.  But, I really do love a good bowl of gumbo.  The combination of crawfish and fried rice sounded really good as well.  I was super psyched they had Badoit, my favorite sparkling water.  I rounded that out with a Coke (not a Pepsi).

As you can see from the menu pictures, OTG will give you the option to pay with a credit card or United miles.  Please, whatever you do, DON’T choose this option.  You’re getting less than a penny a point in “value” when you do.  The only situation where I can see this remotely making sense is if you have only a few thousand miles in your account and really don’t intend on flying United again any time in the future.  Even then, I still might just tell you to fly more!

The bowl of gumbo came out first.  From the time I ordered until the time it hit the table was less than 10 minutes.  It might have been less than 5 minutes.  The bowl was piping hot!  I love that for food, but even more specifically for soup/gumbo.  I almost burned my mouth.  And, it was a pretty darn good bowl of gumbo.  I’m not saying it’s “grungy, back alley restaurant in New Orleans” good.  But, I’d absolutely order it again.

The crawfish fried rice came out next, just a few minutes later.  The temperature on it wasn’t quite where I would have liked it.  The flavor of the dish was quite good, though.  The portion was sizable.  It was a good dish.  I’d probably order it again, but I’d make a note about the temperature.

Interestingly, a few minutes after my food arrived the iPad flashed up a message.  I’ll give them credit for leveraging the tech for upselling.

The Final Two Pennies

I was pleasantly surprised with the entire experience.  The food was good, I might even give the gumbo an “excellent”.  If I had been in a hurry, I could have been out in 30 minutes.  The service was attentive as well.  The server who brought me my gumbo immediately noticed I didn’t have my bottle of Badoit and ran to get it for me.

The prices were on the high end of reasonable.  I get why they add tip at the beginning, but I don’t think it does justice for the server or the customers.  Dollar for dollar, there are probably better values in the airport.  But, I really think you should give Bam Bam a try.  You won’t be disappointed.

The post Restaurant Review: Bam Bam, Vietnamese Cajun At Houston Bush Airport was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. One thing you might be missing out for not scanning your boarding pass is potential surprise and delight – at EWR, they randomly comp appetizers or the entire meal, or 20% off at selected restaurants if you have a MileagePlus credit card.

  2. Sounds great, thanks for posting. I haven’t been in the IAH airport in a couple of years but I’ve always found food to be good, usually eating at another famous Houston based Cajun place but I will definitely try this place. Wow!

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