Sustainable sushi is not typically the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Portland’s exploding food scene. Americans affectionately know Portland as the land of microbreweries, Voodoo doughnuts and glorified food trucks. Tucked snuggly in the city’s pocket, the impact, and mission driving Bamboo Sushi enables it to blend seamlessly within the activist community of this progressive city. Kristofor Lofgren opened Bamboo Sushi with a mission to serve the freshest and best fish possible while helping save the planet’s oceans and marine life. His vision paid off when Bamboo Sushi received the sustainability community’s seal of approval and became the world’s first certified sustainable sushi restaurant.
Fun, modern and great for groups, Bamboo’s vibrant and playful decor pivots from that of a minimalist, traditional sushi restaurant. The staff were knowledgeable, fun and ensured our group had a personalized experience. The menu is creative and even caters to the non-sushi eating crowd with a substantial izakaya and small plates section.
First up was the beautifully plated and well balanced usuzukuri dish ($13) comprised of perfectly sliced white fish accompanied by finely chopped chillies, green onions, tobiko, tataki yasai and a touch of ponzu. The chillies were paired harmoniously and did not overpower the white fish.
The highlight of the night was the salmon flight ($25) tasting. Bamboo Sushi is known for offering seasonal “fish flights” that showcase three to five varieties of the same species for tasting. The flight dish concept demonstrates to diners both the subtle and stark differences between each type of fish within a specific species. On that given night, we sampled the salmon flight consisting of: wild Alaskan coho, wild Alaskan sockeye, Scottish ocean trout (back and belly), and the New Zealand Ōra King (back and belly). Diners will experience a complex flavor ascension from the lighter Alaskan Coho to the soft and buttery New Zealand Ōra King. It was a delicious, delicate, and thoughtfully constructed flavor progression of salmon nigiri.
We sampled a couple of their signature rolls including the vegan PDX roll ($9) with tempura shishito peppers, pickled green beans, and topped with a tofu-avocado aioli and shiitake glaze. The Local roll ($15) filled with albacore, red jalapeño, cucumbers, and topped with east coast red crab, spicy sesame aioli, and black tobiko. Lastly, the Green Machine roll ($15) with albacore, tempura fried long bean, green onions topped with avocado and cilantro sweet chili aioli. The Green Machine had great texture and a good kick from the cilantro sweet chili aioli and is coined as the restaurant’s crowd pleaser. Though I appreciated the creativity of the rolls, as more of a traditionalist, I generally prefer sashimi and nigiri over signature rolls. Therefore, these rolls were not game changers for me. The Local roll had quality ingredients but was on the dry side and the PDX roll though vegan friendly and conceptually interesting, lacked the flavor profile that I was looking for in the absence of fish.
The quality and affordability of Bamboo Sushi makes it hard to beat. The passion of the staff and their stance on the mission of sustainability make the experience truly one of a kind. I’d recommend sampling as many varieties of the seasonal fish offered and be sure to experience the fish flight. Do your tastebuds and the planet a favour, be sure to check out Bamboo Sushi the next time you’re in Portland.
Tel: +1 503-232-5255