There is a saying that "there is no such thing as bad press." Yeah, right. For the purposes of this column though, I have no problem seeing my name in black and white. As a pro tem columnist, I understand the power of the pen can send readers to a restaurant or deter them from going. So, while I would normally subscribe to the saying DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ, I will merely say, believe this – go to Bando. (quietly stepping down from soap box …)
Bando, a Korean barbecue restaurant on the east side of Indianapolis was conveniently located because Fred was coming from Hamilton County court and I was returning from Pendleton Reformatory. Because it was administrative assistant week (yes, week, not day, but week), Gina our fine assistant joined us. It is in a little strip mall on Pendleton Pike less than a mile from Interstate 465. The strip mall hosts other Korean businesses, which was a good sign I thought. The interior is well appointed, very clean, and each table has table-top grilling apparatuses that are used for dinners.
We ordered appetizers of tempura shrimp, chicken teriyaki, and fried dumplings. The tempura shrimp were hearty and not a speck of grease remained in the batter which accentuated the flavor of the shrimp and held the dipping sauce well. The teriyaki chicken, presented on a skewer, was very tender, and there is absolutely no doubt that it was cooked on a barbecue. The teriyaki sauce was incredible and definitely an authentic recipe. Finally, the dumplings kind of paled in comparison to the other appetizers because the dough was a bit chewy. However, when dipped in the side of soy/teriyaki/sesame flavored sauce, it recovered.
Prior to our entrees coming out, you receive about eight complimentary little side dishes of goodies. They included potatoes, marinated vegetables (some in very hot sauce), pickled cabbage in seasoning, tofu, bean sprouts, and other authentic Korean side dishes. Kimchi is what these traditional Korean side dishes are commonly referred to and are pickled dishes made with vegetables with varied seasonings. Fred was the bravest dabbling in all of the items. I was less brave and stuck with identifiable items and was specifically impressed with the hot and spicy cucumber salad. The spicy dishes are well balanced with the cooler dishes to satisfy any taste.
I dug into the pork sauté, which is sliced braised pork that from the texture of the meat, was definitely braised on the grill. You know what I mean, the slight crunch on parts of the meat that were singed by the grill's fire. Very, very good entrée, and the hot and spicy sauté was not overwhelming but had just enough fire to it. The vegetables were the standard onions and some peppers.
Fred had the Korean mainstay of bulgogi, which was very tender beef that was marinated in the restaurant's "special sauce."
Finally Gina raved about her teriyaki chicken because it, too, contained very tender meats. The sauce was not as rich as on the appetizer but still prevalent enough to sate her appetite. All the dishes are served with white rice, and there is no need for soy sauce.
Other entrees include bibimbap – beef with various veggies and a fried egg over rice in a spicy sauce; kimchi chigae – pork with kimchi, tofu, and rice cake; many noodle dishes served with salad; and oyakondon – poached chicken and egg served on a bowl of rice. There are veg etarian choices as well. There is not one lunch menu item over $10, so even if it is not on your way to court, or prison, it is economically worth the drive.
Three and a half gavels for Bando, and know you can believe what you read sometimes!
Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis, focusing in criminal defense. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994 and is active in the Indianapolis Bar Association, Indianapolis Inn of Courts, and the Teen Court Program. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors.