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The Best Sushi Ever

March 23, 2013

I ate the best sushi of my life in Portland last weekend. Bold statement, I know. But Bamboo Sushi in Northwest Portland was really that good.

Bamboo Sushi Exterior

Previously Matsuhisa in Aspen held the top spot in my sushi experiences, but Bamboo edged it out. What’s so special about Bamboo, you ask?

First of all the fish, and all of the food, was just absolutely delicious. Everything tasted fresh and most of the fish was positively buttery in my mouth. I’m a fan of rolls when I go out for sushi, and the combinations of flavors and textures that these guys put together were sensational. It was creative American sushi at its best.

Take for example my favorite rolls of the evening:

Green Machine with Albacore – tempura fried asparagus and green onions topped with avocado and cilantro sweet chili aioli

Chasing the Dragon – shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, east coast red crab, cucumbers, avocado and tobiko, rolled in tempura crisps

Bamboo Sushi

Beyond their rolls, the menu items with the most simple presentation were some of my favorites of the night. We started out with Albacore Carpaccio, thin slices of sashimi that were spiced perfectly and melted in my mouth.

MSC Albacore Carpaccio – thinly sliced albacore with chopped, house smoked cippolini onion, pickled shiitake mushrooms, momiji, ponzu, chervil, and japanese sea salt

Another starter that we ordered was the Truffled Avocado – pieces of perfectly ripe avocado served over rice and wrapped in seaweed with a light sprinkle of truffle salt. I’ve always loved avocado, but this dish made me see it in a whole different light.

Another thing that made the Bamboo experience so phenomenal is how the meal was paced. Instead of bringing out a big boat full of all of our sushi, the items were brought out one or two at a time throughout the meal. This allowed us to fully enjoy one dish before moving on to the next.

Bamboo Sushi

Most of the time that I’ve gone out for sushi, the bulk of the order appears on the table at the same time (most festively in a little boat). Instant gratification can be nice, but the pacing at Bamboo allowed us to savor each item before moving blindly on to the next. Plus, it stretched dinner into a nice two-hour affair that made for a perfectly relaxing evening among great company.

I also appreciated the wide array of non-alcoholic beverages on their cocktail menu. We had spent the afternoon wine tasting in the Willamette Valley, so by dinner time most of us were boozed out. I still like having a special beverage to enjoy with a nice dinner, so I ordered one of their many yummy sounding “mocktails.” It was refreshing, flavorful and lightly sweet.

Kohai Elderblossom Mojito – mint, elderblossom nectar, lemon-lime juice, sparkling water and a dash of sprite

Bamboo Mocktail

They also had a great selection of locally produced hot teas, along with an extensive sake list, cocktails, wine and beer.

We also all loved the fact that Bamboo is a sustainable sushi restaurant. You can read about their philosophy here, but what that means is that all of their fish is caught ethically and sourced from fish populations that aren’t over-fished. They also produce all of the energy used to power the restaurant from renewable sources and use recycled materials whenever possible. Bamboo is also involved in giving back to their local community. How can you not like that?


I know I’ve said it before, but it was so refreshing to see how environmentally responsible the people and businesses were in Portland. Of all the stereotypes about the city, I found the crunchy granola aspect to be the most true and the most impressive.

Finally, the atmosphere of the restaurant was fabulous. I’ll let the photos do the talking:

Bamboo Sushi

Bamboo Sushi Bar

On a vacation of great food, Bamboo was easily the highlight of the trip.


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