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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Restaurant Review: Bamboo Sushi

Culinary correctness. Portland Kosher. Taliban sushi.

Maybe none of the above is a fair summary of Bamboo Sushi, but the terms come to mind when every other page of its menu notes another certification Bamboo Sushi has earned. These are not awards for culinary skill. Bamboo Sushi does not brag about James Beard Awards or kudos from the Oregonian or Willamette Week. Instead, it is all about culinary correctness, Portland's version of Kosher, including the first ever Marine Stewardship Council certified sushi restaurant in the world; Business for Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow; Green Source Business; Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch; Salmon Nation; KidSafe Seafood; Green Restaurant Association; Blue Ocean Institute.

The menu also assumes that diners don’t know how to eat sushi. It contains a full page on “Sushi Etiquette,” with directions to eat fish from least fat content to most fat content, “don’t cross chopsticks when you set them down,” use fingers when eating nigiri and eat in one bite, “two at most.” Can you imagine Noble Rot instructing us on how to swirl and sniff wine?

Despite the pretentiousness, I really like Bamboo Sushi. The food and cocktails are very good. (Although, in contrast to its claim to sustainability, I did not see any Oregon vodka among the vodka bottles behind the bar.) It offers a variety of sakes, if you are into that. Eating off the happy hour menu is a delight. The ambience is great, as it gets a good mix of people, from hip and young to older people who appreciate the modern, cool, decor, which fits the Japanese and Japanese-inspired menu.

Seriously, I’m very happy to know that I’m not participating in the destruction of fisheries. (I'm less happy to be reminded about the problem when relaxing over dinner). I figure that any place that is so particular about what it purchases will provide me with fresh and healthful food. So far, after three visits to Bamboo Sushi, I think food is delicious and creative. Bamboo Sushi lives up to its slogan of “sustainable delectable possible.”

I’m not the only one who agrees that the food is delectable. One of my visits was on a quiet Sunday night. Yet, we still had to wait for a long time because others found the food and atmosphere compelling.

I mention all of the certifications and partnerships because the restaurant, itself, does. It is so "Portland" to aspire to be the number one, very best, top-of-the-heap environmental good citizen (in a very humble way, of course).Bamboo Sushi on Urbanspoon

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