Restaurant Guide 2013: Bamboo Sushi

836 NW 23rd Ave., 971-229-1925; 310 SE 28th Ave., 232-5255;

[GUILT-FREE SUSHI] As the first certified-sustainable sushi restaurant in the world, Bamboo accompanies its bill with a pamphlet from Monterey Bay Aquarium identifying seafood that should be avoided this time of year. Noble causes aside, it doesn't hurt that the Northwest location also provides diners with warm ambience, smart service and kick-ass sushi. The extensive menu is full of winners, including a refreshing sunomono salad featuring thinly sliced cured cucumbers dressed with sweet rice vinegar and topped with crab, shrimp and surf clam. Dry, clean-tasting organic junmai sake carried us through a meal that included starters of agedashi tofu and a terrific trio of sashimi—a delicate sea bream from Greece, Hawaiian yellowtail and Bigeye tuna, also from Hawaii, that was seared tataki-style, with pepper and ponzu sauce. Albacore carpaccio was the highlight: tender, flavorful slices of Oregon Coast tuna accompanied by house-smoked cipollini onion and fresh chervil. Also impressive were picture-perfect avocado nigiri sprinkled with French black truffle salt, soy-marinated wild Alaskan salmon yuan zuke and miso-marinated Alaskan black cod with orange and ginger. But you can't always get what you want: In August, Bamboo wasn't serving sea urchin, because the quality falls off in warmer months. Itching for urchin, I opted for a dessert of creme brulee made with frozen uni. I had trouble detecting the uni, but at that point it didn't matter. Sustainable Bamboo had already sustained me, and then some.

Ideal Meal: Sunomono salad with seafood, sashimi, truffled avocado, albacore carpaccio, Alaskan black cod, sake.
Best Deal: Sampling several of the small-plate dishes ($4-$8) available during happy hour (until 6 pm Monday-Friday).
Pro Tip: The wait staff is very knowledgeable, so ask what's in season or exceptionally fresh that day and order accordingly.
4-10 pm daily (Northwest location), 4:30-10 pm daily (Southeast location). Reservations for seven or more. $$-$$$.


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