I gush and gush about Thanksgiving being the most favored holiday for the MacDonald household. Knowing it is upon us is good cause for deprivation of all things turkey and dressing related until the big Thursday arrives. With that in mind, I figured it was time to review something that would never find a place at my mom’s holiday table. I am speaking of sushi, of course.
Feeling antsy on a weeknight, I rounded up world traveler and real estate tycoon Catherine Mackey for a leisurely drive to Cody Road. Here resides the flagship of Mobile’s Bamboo restaurants, Bamboo Steakhouse & Sushi Bar.
There is Bamboo Bistro on Airport Boulevard near Interstate 65, which I have not recently reviewed. There is Bamboo Fusion on Airport near the Loop (Pinehill), where I dine regularly and once even reviewed with Miss Mackey in tow, so I thought it fitting to bring her along for this episode.
The western incarnation of Bamboo is by far the largest. Upon entering we were asked whether we’d like hibachi or dining room seating. We opted for the first booth we could find and started with the wine list. I was delighted to find Matua sauvignon blanc ($6.95 per glass), which we both ordered.
This was a very good wine to go with our Spicy Tuna Sashimi ($13.95). This appetizer is simple: very good tuna is cubed with a bird’s nest of carrot and daikon and a spicy marinade that may have some Sriracha involved. It’s a fight to the finish with this one. Chopsticks and forks were flying all the while as we pretended to play nice. There was a bit of competitiveness as to who would retrieve the most tuna in the shortest amount of time. A gentleman doesn’t stab a woman with a chopstick for grabbing the last bite. I held back.
From the steak side of the menus we decided on the New York Strip ($20.95). Each of us was served a small salad and the delicious house soup I first fell in love with at Bamboo Fusion. They will gladly substitute miso soup if you are a creature of other habits. The steak was ordered medium rare, and although it was good I regret not having ordered it rare. The giant bowl of fried rice and tons of veggies made this large enough to be a meal for two, not to mention the salty but wonderful pair of grilled shrimp on the edge of the plate. I dared not finish this. We had more coming.
For our sushi course, the Dancing Eel Roll ($12.95) was calling my name. Spicy tuna on the inside was just as good as our appetizer. Cucumber topped with barbecued eel, avocado, spicy mayo, eel sauce, tempura crunch and tobiko is a mouthful to say, and to eat. I would totally get this again. It wasn’t some fried, overly sauced monster that explodes in your stomach. This was a work of art.
There was a chef’s special roll called Baconator that we were more than willing to try, but a waitress steered us in the direction of the Wagamama ($9.50). “If you like bacon,” she said, “try this one. I like it better than the Baconator.” Thanks for the tip. This roll was a simple combination of bacon and smoked salmon with cream cheese and avocado topped with eel sauce. It may sound a little weird but I found it a nice departure from a “normal” sushi experience.
A to-go box was a must for all the leftover hibachi and maybe a piece of sushi or two. When all is said and done, I would give this place a big “thumbs up.” It matches up well with the other sushi offerings in this town. It would be especially nice to sit outside on a warm day and enjoy the view of the lake in the back.
Now that I have sung the praises of this restaurant, I can’t help but feel a little bit of déjà vu as I write this. Bamboo Steakhouse is perfect for the West Mobilian looking for some good sushi. With Bamboo Bistro and (for me) Bamboo Fusion, I can get what I feel is pretty much the same caliber of food without the drive to Cody Road. I will say I was happy enjoying a fairly priced Matua with my sushi. The spicy tuna app was not the same as the Tuna Bomb at Bamboo Fusion, but was very good.
If you are a Midtowner who likes Bamboo Fusion or Bamboo Bistro, you can rest easy knowing that if the mood should hit you when you’re out of your area there is a great substitute out west. It’s all about the geography. Now that the sushi is out of the way bring on the dressing!
Bamboo Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
650 Cody Road S.
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