You know the building I’m talking about. It’s been several things over the past few years. Casa Grande was the Mexican incarnation. The Crab Pot was short lived. Taste of Vietnam was successful for a while. But the building at 2400 Airport Blvd. near Pine Hill has been vacant for some time.
The latest tenants to take on the daunting task of occupying what some might view as a cursed location is the already-popular and gaining momentum Bamboo Fusion. Chances are you may have heard of this family of restaurants if you hail from the other side of I-65. These are the same people who brought us Bamboo Steakhouse on Cody Road and Bamboo Bistro farther westward on Airport Boulevard. Both of these locations are successful, so maybe this is what this structure needs. After all, my friend Carlos and I agree there is no such thing as a cursed location.
I have seen the inside of this building many times in the not-so-recent past, but I remembered it well enough to notice on my visit this week that it looks a lot nicer now than I’d ever seen it. Something about it was a little classier than the last few places, but we know it will take a lot more than a fresh coat of paint and some décor adjustments to keep the doors open.
A seat by the window gave me the chance to catch some rays as I perused the rather large menu. My dining partner, Agent 549, and I were trying to decide between appetizers of coconut shrimp, gyoza, and tataki when Tuna Bomb ($13.95) exploded off the page.
Cubed tuna lay naked as the eyes of a clown with chunks of avocado, marinated in a chef’s special sauce with jalapeno slices and served cold. The sauce was tangy and so delicious we asked what it was. Our normally informative waitress, Katelyn, held back on her answer and replied, “It’s our chef’s secret.” This will not be the last time I order this appetizer. I totally recommend it.
With the amount of food we were getting, they decided to throw in a soup and salad for each of us. The choice of miso or house soup was easy; I had to try the house. This hearty chicken broth supported mushrooms and fried bits of onion and scallions to make an enjoyable change of pace from the usual miso.
For the record, soup lovers will be happy to know there is the option of tom ka, tom yum and egg drop but they do not come with the meal.
The complimentary salad had a mayonnaise-based dressing that I really enjoyed, once again a break from the ginger type you normally get in sushi bars.
We felt we couldn’t ignore the steak and shrimp hibachi lunch special ($13.95). This was definitely enough to share with a mound of rice that could fill two plates once broken up. The steak was not overdone and you know the shrimp are perfect when they explode in your mouth. The sauce on the side was to die for. I hope they bottle and sell it in the future. If you are on a budget (and who isn’t?) this could be a great lunch for you and a partner. But I’m not stopping here.
I bypassed the noodle and rice dishes, heading straight for what everyone wants to know about, the sushi. There is, of course, your standard-fare sushi and sashimi, traditional rolls and signature offerings sushi fans are accustomed to. Today I was drawn to the Bamboo Special Rolls section of the menu.
The North Sea ($13.95) was the first thing that caught my eye. When you say “spicy scallop and avocado topped with salmon, tobiko and wasabi sauce” I perk up in a hurry. This roll came out looking beautiful, but I must admit I wasn’t as crazy about it as I’d hoped. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it fine but it didn’t make me dance with my dress up, as they say.
From that same section of the menu came Bamboo Fusion’s shot at redemption. The Louisiana roll ($13.95) was elegant, complex, rich and refreshing at the same time. Spicy tuna, cream cheese and cucumber is good enough. It gets better when you add baked crawfish, eel sauce, spicy mayo and scallions. There was a bit of a chopstick war going on for this one, but 549’s special training won out, grabbing the last piece with no apologies. I should reconsider the check.
A dessert menu consisted of various types of ice cream, but we were having none of it. Any more food and I’d have to take the day off.
Here’s the skinny. They have a good thing going over at Bamboo Fusion. I need to try dinner to really get my opinion honed in. My first reaction is a good one, though. I hope they don’t try to get crazy with too many specials and offerings, opting instead to focus on making great sushi. If they can keep it classy and tasty, then this may be exactly what this building needs. Judge them yourself. I will be returning soon.
Bamboo Fusion Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
2400 Airport Blvd.
Mobile, AL 36606