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Bham Eats: Bamboo on 2nd

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We’re sure you’ve heard about Bamboo on 2nd by now. You’ve probably even been there at this point, but we have to celebrate one of 2015’s great Loft District food scene additions. Like its thriving neighborhood, Bamboo is a place that deserves the hype.

Bamboo offers all-around gorgeous food presentation and top-notch service, but those things are almost an afterthought because the food is so good. The menu features a variety of sushi offerings, many with a delicious-sounding combination of traditionalist ingredients and fun textures — tempura twists are frequent players — as well as non-sushi small plates with a range of Asian culinary inspirations.

But there are two things that really stand out in those small plates: the sauces and the textures.

There’s so much happening in the house salad dressing, for instance, it’s hard to know how to describe it. It’s a taste shapeshifter, that one, with a subtle heat that rises but never overwhelms. The texture of peanuts and lettuce offsets tender meats (pork in our case) for a perfectly mouth-happy combination.

The tomato vinaigrette that pools around momos (Nepalese dumplings) has a subtle tang, that leaves you wanting more. The tender dough wrapped around a turkey meatball soaks up a fair bit of vinaigrette for a thoroughly drool-worthy bite, but ultimately, you’ll be glad the dumplings are served with a spoon.

 

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The house sweet sauce is thick enough to solidly coat the lumpia (Filipino egg roll), and it offers just enough acid to keep the sweetness from being cloying. Almost the texture of a dessert syrup, this is a sauce that can pretty much stand on its own. A word of warning: You may even find yourself dipping the lettuce garnish into it when you run out of egg roll.

Meanwhile, this is a restaurant that fries things to perfection. As born-and-bred Southerners, we’re no strangers to the fry arts, but Bamboo’s technique left us deeply impressed (and craving a return visit). The lumpia’s paper-thin coating was a crispy delight. The fried green beans had an extra light and perfectly salted coating surrounding juicy and not-at-all-greasy vegetables. It was the reverse mullet effect that good frying should be: party on the outside concealing solid, real food on the inside. It’s entirely possible those green beans will prompt your very best dreams.

And if the food isn’t enough to convince you, the design just might be. We’ve talked about the loft district being high design before, and this place is no exception. Bamboo boasts the same attention to design detail as its neighbor El Barrio across the street (also an Appleseed Workshop build) but a totally independent look. Like El Barrio — and much of the Loft District, really — it’s a powerful combination of proud old building bones and an eclectically modern aesthetic.

We also like the way both restaurants play on their converted storefronts to create powerful window scenes. Each offers the opportunity to literally sit in the storefront area, creating a powerful draw for the restaurant but also giving patrons a chance for some classic people watching. It’s a clever play on the Loft District’s street life vibe that we love unequivocally.

So give Bamboo a visit, if you haven’t already, and let’s compare favorites. Happy dining!

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