A few Portland trips ago I found out that Bamboo Sushi on NW 23rd had gluten-free tempura and had been wanting to visit every time I was back. I love sushi and always wanted to have rolls with shrimp tempura! Unfortunately it isn’t open for lunch and the timing never worked out to go. This trip wasn’t going to go by without a visit to Bamboo though!
This trip my parents and I went there as my going away dinner. Unfortunately pretty early on we found out that the gluten-free tempura wasn’t okay for celiacs because they only use one fryer at Bamboo Sushi… So the cross-contamination (frying in the same oil as regular tempura) renders it not really gluten-free. That was kind of the reason we went to Bamboo so it was pretty disappointing, but we made the best of it. Bamboo Sushi is the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world so anything we decided to get was going to be pretty fresh and good.
Although the gluten-free tempura isn’t okay for celiacs our waiter was really helpful in outlining what was gluten-free and then what could be made gluten-free. Most of the options could be made gluten-free, which was great. Unfortunately they pre-mix their spicy tuna so my favorite couldn’t be made gluten-free. I got two of their Philly rolls (smoked salmon with cream cheese and cucumber), which are another one of my favorites (because of the cream cheese). I also got their “The Local” roll, which they were able to make gluten-free. It comes with albacore, strips of red jalapeno and cucumbers inside topped with east coast red crab mixed with spicy sesame aioli. It was delicious! A bit of a kick from the jalapeno, smoothness of the albacore and red crab, and the creaminess and kick of the spicy aioli.
My parents also got a salmon roll and veggie roll both which were really fresh. Bamboo has gluten-free soy sauce, which my Mom really liked. I honestly found it a bit too salty and prefer my sushi without soy sauce, even if the gluten-free kind was more widely available. My mom also got the Alaskan black cod, which they make gluten-free. It’s marinated with sweet miso with orange and ginger. My mom loved it! Apparently they recently re-did the cod so it was less heavy. At first fans of the old were were disappointed according to our waiter, but that after they tried it they were fans as well!
It was a pretty big disappointment that the gluten-free tempura doesn’t work for celiacs and the spicy tuna roll couldn’t be accommodated. But despite that Bamboo made it an enjoyable experience given how much they were willing to accommodate and identify what was gluten-free and what could be gluten-free. Given it’s the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world everything was very fresh and delicious. Bamboo Sushi is the place to go for top quality sushi in Portland. It’s traditional rolls are all very fresh and they have some cool specialty sushi rolls, similarly fresh and quite creative. If you’re gluten-sensitive (probably on the low end) it could be worth a trip to try the gluten-free tempura, but alas it won’t work for celiacs or people with a high level of sensitivity.
Bamboo Sushi- 836 NW 23rd Ave Portland, OR (also a location in SE Portland)