It was fun writing about Bamboo Sushi's new downtown location for Oregon Business Magazine's Power Lunch column. I felt a little strange eavesdropping on fellow diners, but—for better or worse—I got good at doing that during the 13 years I lived in New York City...
A lunch combo at Bamboo Sushi's downtown location
404 SW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97205
Hours: Every day from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Owners: Kristofor Lofgren
Atmosphere: The high-ceilinged space, revamped by local architecture firm Design Department, has white oak tables, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and Japanese baskets adorning one wall. The overall effect is Japanese farmhouse chic.
Clientele: Executives in tailored suits, women in sheer silk blouses and gold jewelry, and couples clad in the typical Portland uniform of jeans and Nau. At the adjacent table, an executive from the Mark Spencer Hotel was meeting with a staffer from Fat Head’s Brewery.
Most popular: The kalbi (Piedmontese grilled short ribs); karaage (fried chicken thigh in a gluten-free batter, served with a dill-yuzu kewpie); and the pork belly and kimchee. The daily nigiri and signature rolls are always a hit.
Best seat in the house: For the utmost privacy, ask for one of the tables in the alcove near the bar. But most guests opt for a table adjacent to the sliding windows on 12th, or, when the weather is nice, an outdoor table on the sidewalk patio.
Danger zone: Bartender Andy Adams creates fabulous Asian-inflected cocktails such as the Tongue-Cut Sparrow — blended scotch, oolong-infused vermouth and benedictine. Maybe not a great idea to indulge at lunch — but there’s always happy hour.
Inside dope: This space, on the corner of Stark and 12th, was formerly a methadone clinic.
Bragging rights: The restaurant will soon have a rooftop garden that seats an additional 30 people.
Overheard: “I lived in Japan for two years, so I’m an expert in chopsticks,” said a dapper man to his lunch date. When that table turned, a man and his female friend met for lunch. The man had just returned from a trip to New York City. “So my friend Shannon, the drummer, was doing a week’s stint on this celebrity show,” he says. “I stayed at the Jane. I saw some really inspiring art. It was a sign of optimism, I thought.”
Lofty goals: “We don’t do part-time employees,” Lofgren says. “We’re trying to build a strong full-time workforce: people who will get paid leave, maternity leave, health benefits. People want to have families. They want to have a life. We want to be part of enhancing their lives, and they’ll feel that good juju and enhance our lives in return.”