Bamboo Sushi: Restaurant Guide 2014

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

[DOLPHIN SAFEST] Bamboo Northwest is probably the only sushi house that always smells like ice cream. The overpowering scent from Salt & Straw wafts through the walls while you inevitably wait in the foyer for your table, reading an article about how Oprah loves Bamboo's sustainable fishing ethos. Its eco-focus has not made it austere, however: Bamboo's menu is a carnivalesque riff on the Japanese kitchen. The "omakase" chef's choice menu—wholeheartedly recommended—is less the improvised Japanese tradition than it is an elevated $100 value meal cobbled from all over the menu. It begins with a tsukemono tray that pairs pomegranate-pickled rhubarb with minty pickled watermelon, and continues with jalapeño-topped whitefish sashimi arranged in radial spokes around an onion salad, with tobiko scattered like birdseed across the plate. The "house on fire" mackerel is literally that—a tiered wooden pagoda with both fire and fish inside. Bamboo Northwest offers an anything-goes approach to the traditional sushi kitchen—though traditional sushi is, of course, available—and a little bit of refined showmanship. Even the restrooms put on a show; their separate sound systems emit Japanese language tapes at volumes subliminal enough to make you feel you're going insane. But the heights of excess are reserved for the burger ($17), a towering stack-up with three different types of onion, plus egg and bacon. The coup de grâce? The waiter's suggestion that we also add miso butter to the burger, for an overload of fattiness that's almost French in its purity. Come for the sushi; stay for the heart attack. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.

Pro tip:

The list of fish that always-sustainable Bamboo Sushi will not serve is as long as your arm, so if something's off the sashimi menu there might be a sound ecological reason. So don't ask for what's not there; instead, ask your server what's good that week.

5-10 pm daily (Northwest location), 4:30-10 pm daily (Southeast location). Reservations for seven or more. $$-$$$.