With the vast number of bikes, compost bins and businesses offering local produce, it is no secret that the city of Portland is green. This is one of the many reasons that Bamboo Sushi, renowned for being the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world, is so popular in the City of Roses.
The cuisine and beverages are enough reasons in themselves to choose Bamboo for sating that sushi craving, but the restaurant’s dedication to being environmentally friendly will have you leaving with a contented conscience as well as stomach. From the fact that their power is purchased from renewable energy sources and their commitment to composting to their use of 100-percent biodegradable to-go containers, Bamboo is dedicated to making the smallest footprint possible.
Although this restaurant’s commitment to ecological respect is doubtlessly noteworthy, it is their artisanship with seafood, sake and shochu that keeps the lines of anxious, mouthwatering patrons snaking out of the front doors and down the streets of both their SE and NW Portland locations.
Within the first five minutes of being seated, it is impossible not to fall in love with this Japanese inspired jewel. The lighting is dim, the décor is simplistic yet striking, the music is hip, and the sushi chefs are beyond amiable. What the floor plan lacks in square footage, it makes up for with its promise of a variety of experiences—individuals are given the choice to sit at one of the low seated tables of the main restaurant, the tall tables or countertop of the wet bar, or at the perimeter of the sushi bar. Undeniably enamored by the opportunity to witness the less than attractive sea creatures be transformed into little rolls of heaven, I chose to wait for a seat to open up at the desirable sushi bar.
After being immediately welcomed with complimentary salted edamame and fresh cucumber water, it is time to peruse the menu, which offers a wide array of both cooked and raw dishes. The sushi shy and less venturous folk will be happy to see the half pound Snake River Farms Waygu Burger served with Tillamook white cheddar cheese on a brioche bun. Various salads, cooked fish like mackerel and cod, shrimp, and vegetable dishes incorporating flavors including ginger, soy sauce, and more also grace the menu.
If you continue to flip through the pages, you will come across the Holy Grail: nigiri, sashimi and sushi rolls. With fresh albacore and salmon that melts in your mouth, the use of real crab in the artfully crafted traditional and house signature rolls, and the ability to unite unique flavors to result in a product that is simply euphoric, your fingers will be itching for your chopsticks (made out of sustainable harvested teak wood). Even those hesitant to try raw seafood will be unable to resist a taste.
Every delicious meal deserves the offering of a drink worthy enough to be paired with it, and Bamboo does just that. The impressively lengthy list of signature cocktails brings the flavors of Japan into glasses by incorporating sweet (lychee, passion fruit, elder blossom nectar) and spicy (jalapeño sake, ginger) ingredients to create unforgettable sipping experiences. Be it you are new or already familiar with sake—fermented rice wine—and shochu—a distilled beverage native to Japan—Bamboo offers an extensive collection of these drinks, also available in tasting flights, so that you can find the flavor that’s right for you. Do not hesitate to talk to your bartender; they understand the never-ending list of sakes can be a bit overwhelming for novices.
The only downfall of Bamboo Sushi is that the doors do not open up for lunchtime, but given the vast list of reasons to go, this restaurant is well worth the wait for dinnertime.
Bamboo Sushi || 310 SE 28th ave., Portland || 836 NW 23rd ave., Portland
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