After serving guests in Avanti F&B for a little more than a year, Bamboo Sushi will open its first brick and mortar location in Denver on Monday, November 27 in LoHi.
Like its sister restaurant QuickFish (which is now in its former Avanti spot), Bamboo Sushi is laser-focused on sustainable fishing practices and sourcing. In fact, they claim it’s the world’s first certified sustainable sushi restaurant. Outlets like TIME and organizations like Marine Stewardship Council agree with its status as a pioneer.
“It’s been great to introduce Denverites to Bamboo through Avanti, but we’re really looking forward to giving our fans the full Bamboo experience at our new LoHi restaurant,” said Kristofor Lofgren, founder of Bamboo Sushi and the Sustainable Restaurant Group. “We’ve built a truly unique and expansive supply chain that brings our guests the highest quality, sustainable fish on the market today. As we grow our footprint in Denver our aim is to continue to inspire change in the way people eat, the way restaurants do business and the way we treat our environment.”
This ethical dedication shapes Bamboo’s menu into a sushi experience unlike any other. All of the dishes are original — there’s not a rainbow or spicy tuna roll in sight. If you’re looking to expand your appreciation and definition of sushi, you’ll want to add Bamboo to your list.
Tucked in between Postino and Recess Beer Garden in LoHi, Bamboo Sushi has a much larger footprint in this space than it was able to in Avanti. The space seats more than 130 people between the bar area, dining room and patio. All of the Bamboo locations — there are others in Portland and Seattle — have common design elements, but this location is the largest thus far.
When looking for a space in Denver, Lofgren said that there are a few non-negotiables for the brand — the like rehabbed spaces that connect to other businesses — so they can cultivate a greater sense of community. This location has a relaxing, modern feel that has hints of Japanese culture without becoming overly kitschy — for example, deep blue hues lead to a large wall with an installation that blends modern and traditional Japanese fabrics from Kiriko Made, a Portland-based Japanese textile company. Lofgren explained that they hope to expand enough to become “everyone’s favorite sushi restaurant in America’s most distinct neighborhoods across the country.”
The Food & Drinks
While the menu is clearly rooted in the art of traditional Japanese sushi, Executive Chef Jin Soo Yang takes the menu beyond what you’re accustomed to in a typical sushi restaurant — and the menu is much larger than what was offered at Avanti.
“We focus on quality through sustainability over anything else,” Lofgren explained. “But, we want to make sure when you come and eat with us, you have food you’ve never had before.”
In addition to its sashimi, nigiri and all-original selection of signature rolls, Bamboo Sushi has a selection of Japanese small plates, both vegetarian and others centered around seafood, chicken and flank steak. The variety makes it easy to dine there whether everyone is craving sushi or not.
For more traditional tastes, we suggest a selection of the super-fresh nigiri or sashimi (two pieces each, market price). For the nigiri, there are optional “Yakumi” or toppings paired with each cut of fish for an extra $1 — from the Ora King Salmon taken up a notch with orange, olive oil, lemon zest and sea salt to the scallop seared with yuzu vinegar. All of the sushi rolls are original to Bamboo Sushi locations. Some you may recognize from Avanti (like the Green Machine ($11) with tempura fried long bean and green onion topped with an avocado cilantro sweet chili aioli) and other new options that you’ve never even dreamed of — like our favorite, the Kimono Roll ($17), with house crab, apple and cucumber on the inside and wild Alaskan salmon, pickled apple, fried sage and lime zest on top.
And, because of the team’s focus on sustainable seafood, you can feel good about what you’re eating. Not only that, you can track each catch on this interactive map on the restaurant’s website. Not only is the concept endorsed by the Marine Stewardship Council, every piece of fish the restaurant serves is approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program — meaning it comes from a renewable source where the fish are plentiful and healthy.
“To counteract the carbon footprint tied to shipping, we choose to source the majority of our menu from domestic fisheries,” the team explained to us. “We also invest offset dollars into the Ocean Foundation’s Seagrass Project. In the future, we look forward to partnering with more progressive shipping companies that are looking to use electric-powered trucks to ship product.”
If you’re not craving sushi, though, there’s still plenty for you. The team has creative takes on a few American favorites — like the Bamboo Caesar Salad ($7) with a dressing made with fish sauce instead of anchovies and topped with herbed rice croutons and the Snake River Farms Wagyu Burger ($15). The burger has gathered somewhat of a cult following in Bamboo’s other cities — it’s a half-pound burger on brioche seasoned with a unique blend of Japanese spices, then topped with aged white cheddar, caramelized onions, Momiji sauce and tempura onion rings. Bring friends to share it — it’s a flavorful beast.
While we would usually order wine or sake with sushi, Bamboo’s cocktail list is not to be ignored. While they do have an extensive list of Japanese whisky, soju and a private label sake, the cocktails are inventive and full of ingredients you might not see otherwise. We loved the Mononoke Mule ($10) with vodka, lemongrass-ginger, lime, turmeric, mint, rosewater and ginger beer, but we’re definitely eyeing The Dragon ($9) with Thai chile-infused saké, guava, hibiscus and lime for next time.
Bamboo Sushi is located at 2715 17th Street #102, Denver. Once it opens on Monday, November 27, it will be open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner, with happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m.
All photos by Rachel Adams Photography.