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PDX: Bamboo Sushi

The premium sushi chain in Portland. This is saying a lot, because this town has good, authentic sushi. They do pride themselves on using sustainable fish, even though I hadn’t checked their credential. I’m suspicious of that statement as they do serve tuna, which I thought was kind of on the decline, but I hadn’t paid much attention. Call it a guilty pleasure, because tuna can be so good that I’m willing to overlook a lot, for just a small slice. Anyway, I’ve made plans because it was Superbowl Sunday, a day when restaurants do not get much business. Bamboo even made the pot sweeter by opening a Happy Hour menu all day, which helps with the wallet as sushi is not cheap.

We checked in for our reservations, and the Bamboo was very dead. I guess the reservation was an overkill, but it is nice to be able to sit by the window. Since it was Happy Hour and we had a huge party, we ordered everything that was at a special price. The food kept coming and the sake flowed like no one’s business. I quite like the space, a modern take on a Japanese room. There is modern decorative art, the lights were low, and little rooms to the side reminded me of tatami rooms. And they tried to use bamboo where they could.


The most memorable dishes, ironically, are not sushi. The karaage was very succulent and the thin batter went well with the tender chicken. We also got really lucky with the daily kama, which I’m assuming are leftover cuts of fish. In our case, it was a huge piece of fatty salmon, the meat just fell off and the grilled managed to smoke the salmon – one of the best pieces of fish I’ve had in a little while, easily rivals Pluvio’s! The gang thought the crispy avocado rice was delicious (I didn’t try it), and we ordered the tofu agedashi (fried tofu in simple broth) twice because they were yummy.

Sushi roll

Since this was a sushi shop, we ordered a plate filled with rolls. To be honest, it was okay. I’m glad we didn’t overpay these, and I’m sure the ingredients are great. They just did not do it for me. The rice wasn’t fragrant enough, and the sauces and the fish didn’t seem to work well. Something is missing, and I was trying to put more soy sauce just to compensate for the mediocre taste. Even the Nigiris were okay, even though they look freaking amazing. I’m spoiled by higher-quality sushi, and this feels just a little short considering the environment we are in. The tuna poke was alright, but again, the seasonings were a little off for my taste – a little too cold and blended.


We had fun at Bamboo Sushi. The food is a mixed bag – some tasting dishes, but the main event did not clear the bar for me. There might be more modern restaurants in town and better sushi, but if you want one that is a combination of two, and easy to get a table – Bamboo isn’t a bad choice. I’ll come back, especially for the karaage, and also to gamble on the daily kama.

Visited: February 11th, 2024.
Address: 836 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210

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