Food porn from a happy hour at Bamboo Sushi. My intention that day was to go to Salt & Straw for their monthly special ice cream, and by combining forces with my friend, try all the flavors of the month. The friend I was meeting was a little late (say, leaving at the time she said she would meet me there :P) And it was a day where it was raining super hard too, which is unusual for Portland even with its reputation for Pacific NW rain because it usually is “misting” not full on rain that soaks you in a minute. Usually I might walk up and down window shopping, but with the rain, I wanted shelter. I already sort of anticipated and was even slightly hoping for both of these reasons, because I know Bamboo Sushi is right next door to the Salt & Straw on NW 23rd, and it was happy hour time. Now I had 3 reasons to go in to add to the knowledge of Bamboo’s reputation!
3? Right. Besides, rain, and happy hour, there’s Bamboo being a business with a conscience. You probably have already heard all the accolades about how Bamboo Sushi not only offers delicious food, but also focuses on sustainability, and has been for about 5 years now. The founder of the two locations of Bamboo Sushi (one in NW 23rd that I went to, the other at SE 28th) Kristofor Lofgren has a background in environmental science, and besides operating the two restaurants, also works to partner with others and promote environmental responsibility in policy.
They know where all their seafood comes from, how it came to them including how their vendors operate, and all their seafood menu items are chosen according to the Seafood Watch list from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute then certified by The Marine Stewardship Council. This miniature video film at 4 minutes, the Story of Sushi, made splashy news last year in marketing the importance of making smart choices as a seafood diner, especially of sushi.
So how could you not be a fan? Especially, if you can make happy hour, which included for my friend and I
- Daily Hand Roll and cocktail of the day… what you don’t see is that I already consumed the complimentary edamame bowl. Shh don’t tell my friend.
- From their signature cocktail menu, the drink Purple Haze. with fresh blackberry puree shaken with vodka and lemon-lime juice, served on the rocks
- Imo koroshi—“potato killer” roasted yam press box, garlic-soy-butter, sesame chili powder, $4 instead of $6 at happy hour. Tastes as wonderful as it looks.
- From House Signature Roll section: Green Machine Roll (vegetarian) of tempura fried asparagus and green onions topped with avocado and cilantro sweet chili aioli. Amazing.
- $6 instead of $10 at Bamboo Sushi Happy Hour: “karashi” hanger, a marinated and grilled St Helens hanger steak with asian mustard mushrooms and puffed rice
- Also on the happy hour menu, char grilled shishito peppers tossed with miso butter and bacon and topped with bonito flakes, $4 instead of $6 at happy hour
- Okonomiyaki, a traditional Japanese savory pancake with shrimp and mushrooms, topped with fried oysters, drizzled with aioli and eel sauce, $5 instead of $8 at happy hour
I also had from the signature cocktail menu a sample sip of the Sparkling Blossom (prosecco, shiso schochu, elderblossom nectar, rhubarb & lemon bitters, lemon juice, with a toschi cherry in a flute, as delicate and beautiful as it sounds), a sip of the super refreshing Shiso Serious (muddled cucumber, shisho infused shochu, lemon-lime juice and soda, garnished with a cucumber), and Sempai Mojito (muddled red grapes, mint and sage, with rum, lemongrass rum and sage simple syrup- very dangerous as it comes in a pint glass and took me over the line in my happy hour libations, oops! The hazards of a happy hour review!).
So we definitely… or maybe me as I pre-ordered everything but the rolls before she arrived to get happy hour prices… over-ordered. But at the same time, I was thrilled to see the variety of items on the happy hour menu and could have easily ordered more. I didn’t even get any sashimi because I was so tempted by all these other options!
For happy hour there were 17 options there for food, of which more than half were vegetarian or could be vegetarian by omitting bonito flakes, one choice can even be made gluten free! The rest of the menu includes more of the same so that anyone with any diet can dine at Bamboo Sushi happily. It does get busy and has a hip, trendy vibe, so prepare your arrival/eating time accordingly. It’s obviously not going to be priced like a conveyor belt sushi place- but I think their cause is worth it. If you have the opportunity, come support this great local business with a conscience and enjoy incredible food for happy hour and dinner!
Do you like sushi and/or sashimi? During your visit would you go the raw route with sushi and sashimi and hand rolls, or go with the alternate options like I did during this happy hour? How much does a business with a conscience factor into how you select it as a destination?