The symbol of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians is the great oak.
So Pechanga Resort & Casino was making a statement about the importance of its Asian customers when it named its new restaurant, Bamboo, after another evergreen plant.
The 134-seat restaurant is casino's fourth dining facility to cater to the Asian market. That includes the buffet, which reopened in June after a major expansion.
The others are a food court outlet and a sit-down restaurant, Blazing Noodles.
What sets Bamboo apart is authentic Asian cooking, but it's a break from expectations people have for Chinese restaurants, resort officials said.
Bamboo specializes in noodles, rice dishes and roast meats from Korea and Vietnam as well as China, served a la carte.
"There's no entrée per se," said Dennis Khanh, vice president of food and beverage. "It's meant to be fast-paced."
Chef Vincent Cheng described Bamboo as an authentic Asian noodle house, serving noodles in a variety of styles across the Pacific.
Bamboo's décor also breaks with tradition, with little ethnic decoration aside from a few ornaments in niches and a goldfish mural on one wall.
"We didn't want to make it very Asian, with the old days of the golden dragon, with the gold and the red. We like to keep it light, kind of neutral, casual and elegant, but with a little accent," Khanh said.
Cheng is planning on moving a lot of roast duck, a signature dish.
He expects Bamboo to serve as many as 700 people a day. Increasing the odds of that happening are late-night hours. Beginning in October, food service will be offered in a new gaming table pit at the entrance of the restaurant.
The pit, like the restaurant, is intended to reach out to an Asian clientele. Its card tables feature a bamboo design and red velvet unique to the section.
Bamboo opened last week. It occupies 5,500 feet on the east side of the casino, space repurposed from non-smoking gaming and a cash cage.
Joaquin Fletcher, first vice president of the Pechanga Development Corp., said planning began 1 ½ years ago and construction took seven months. The cost was about $2 million.
"We have a large Asian population that enjoys gaming here," said Fletcher. "We wanted to give them some fast food, also give the public the chance to sample some of their foods as well. ...
"We thought an Asian restaurant would be just beautiful here."
All meals for restaurant profiles are paid for by The Press-Enterprise.
Where: Pechanga Resort & Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 a.m. daily
Beverages: Coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer
Reservations: Not necessary