ADDRESS: 444 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018
It was the night before my high school friend’s wedding, and I drove up to the Bethlehem area where I’d be staying for the next two nights. It had probably been close to nine years since I had been back up to the area, as the last time I’d visited was when my friend Bryan was still in grad school at Lehigh University. I had the night to myself, so I decided to go check out an Asian fusion restaurant called Randevoo that I had found looking at the local area on Google Maps.
From what it sounds like, Randevoo started as a food truck (and still operates it) before they set up their brick and mortar location. The restaurant itself is located in the back of the space occupied by the Lost Tavern Brewing Company, both of which share the building with the Moravian Book Shop. I found it to be an interesting setup, but it makes sense considering people stopping at the brewery could just order some food from Randevoo if they were hungry.
The space itself was pretty brightly lit, with a number of tables that could accommodate probably around 40 people or so. In keeping with the book shop theme, one of the walls common to the space had a faux bookshelf print to it. The restaurant doesn’t offer any true table-side service, as you order your food up at the counter and bring a number to your table. For drinks, you can order them at the bar from Lost Tavern or pick up waters from the dispenser they had next to the bar.
For the food, there were definitely varying types to choose from. Meat skewers using Asian ingredient marinades, entrée plates of Korean fried chicken or crispy pork belly lo mein, sushi rolls, or a couple of options using bao buns as well. It was a bit difficult to decide at first, but one thing I had read prior in reviews was about their sushi, so I knew that was in the mix. I then had to decide what additional appetizer I wanted to try as well to get a good overview of some of the different types of flavors offered at the restaurant.
In the end, the Carnitas Bao Buns sounded pretty intriguing to start as an appetizer, topped with green sriracha, cilantro, pan sauce, and pickled jalapeños. I got two sushi rolls to accompany that: the Randevoo Tempura and Volcano Shrimp Tempura. I’ll be honest that I was second guessing if I was going to be able to finish all of that food since it sounded like a lot, but it turned out to be just fine.
The Carnitas Bao Buns came out first, and these things were loaded up. Each bao bun was packed with the shredded pork, which also looked like it had been crisped up a bit on a flat-top grill. There was a small dollop of green sriracha sauce on the meat on each bun (the order comes with two), along with the pickled jalapeño slices and cilantro. I was pretty impressed with the flavor combination of this dish, since it wasn’t a concept I’ve had before.
Savory, umami, and spicy flavors were probably the most prominent, with the acidity from the pickled jalapeños and green sriracha also helping to contrast with the meat. The pillowy softness of the bao buns also made for a nice vessel to use to construct the dish around. Each one of the bao buns was about five to seven bites as well, so it was certainly a pretty substantial appetizer for me. But I was definitely happy with how the meal was starting off.
It wasn’t too long after I had polished off the bao buns that my plate of sushi arrived to the table. The Volcano Shrimp Tempura came with eight pieces while the Randevoo Tempura came with six, but they were the larger pieces of the two rolls. I got to trying both of the rolls and I have to say, I think that the sushi might have gotten hyped up a bit too much, since I thought it was only average.
The thing that I immediately noticed when I ate a piece of the Volcano Shrimp Tempura Roll was that the sushi rice was plain and didn’t have any rice vinegar added to it. It wasn’t a dealbreaker for me, but just something that definitely stood out, since I’m accustomed to sushi rice having a subtle sweetness or tanginess from the rice vinegar. In addition to shrimp tempura on the inside, the roll also had cucumber and avocado, before being topped with the volcano sauce. I was expecting the sauce to pack more of a punch, but I think that since it was only a light application of the sauce, I didn’t find the flavor to be as impactful.
The Randevoo Tempura Roll sounded like it would be an interesting array of flavors, which had king salmon and lump crab wrapped on the inside, deep fried, and then topped with lemon aioli, sweet soy sauce, and Old Bay seasoning. In the end, however, I got predominantly salmon flavors with some hints of crab here and there. I think the lemon in the aioli was too subtle that it got overpowered by the other things around it, so perhaps if that was more pronounced, the citric acid would have been a nice contrast from a flavor standpoint.
At the end of it all, it was the food I ended up not hearing about in a review that I enjoyed the most. I thought the Carnitas bao bun appetizer had great portions and a nice, strong flavor combination that stood out. The sushi unfortunately faded into the background, which was a bit of a shame as well, since they ended up being a bit pricey for what it was. I thought that the ambiance was nice and the food is definitely a good pairing with the brewery offerings. But if you do stop by, perhaps consider some of the other dish choices aside from the sushi if you’re going to spend those kind of prices.
Let’s now take a look at the Randevoo Restaurant Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Carnitas Bao Buns **
Crispy pork, green sriracha, pickled jalapeños, pan sauce, and cilantro, served on bao buns.
Randevoo Tempura Roll
King salmon and lump crab on the inside, deep-fried, topped with lemon aioli, sweet soy sauce, and Old Bay seasoning (pictured without cream cheese).
Volcano Shrimp Tempura Roll
Shrimp tempura, cucumber, and avocado on the inside, topped with volcano sauce.
And finally, here are my rankings for Randevoo Restaurant:
Food: 3.75 / 5
I came in with high hopes on the sushi, but unfortunately left a bit underwhelmed. The pleasant surprise, however, turned out to be the bao buns, which were full of flavor. I think there are also a good variety of other dishes to try as well, which also had flavor combinations that sounded interesting.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
The relaxed vibe of the restaurant itself paired nicely with the brewery in the shared space next to it. It was Friday night, and there was also a guitarist who was performing on stage in the front of the brewery space, so that helped to bring some additional ambiance as well.
Service: 4 / 5
The woman who helped me through the ordering process was polite and also helped to bring my food out from the kitchen. I thought in general that the food was coming out of the kitchen and sushi bar at a pretty reasonable pace, given that the restaurant didn’t seem overly packed when I stopped in.
Price: 3.25 / 5
For the sushi being $15 per roll (for the ones that I ordered), that definitely sits on the expensive side. I would have probably preferred them being closer to $11 or $12 per roll, for what I got. The bao bun appetizer, however, I thought had great value at $10 for the dish, with the quantity of food received as well as the quality of that flavor combination.