Bamboo Izakaya, Santa Monica

Bamboo Izakaya, Santa Monica

I would like my first ever post to be about a local favorite where my boyfriend and I love to drop-in for lunch to visit the wonderful bartendress and L.A. DJ, Sachi Lee, and to have the signature Garlic Edamame (sautéed in soy sauce and complimentary with a Foursquare check-in!). It is absolutely a must try at Bamboo, but I should warn you, it is highly addictive. If you are a garlic lover, and I know most people are, then you will enjoy this simple, delicious twist on a Japanese classic.

When we popped in for lunch the other day we decided to really go for it. Usually we like to keep it light and varied, but it was time to branch out and try some of the larger lunch specials. After starting off with Sachi’s special lemonades that make you feel like you are floating at a swim-up Tiki bar in the electric blue water of the Caribbean…. yes, they are amazing…. our Akebono roll arrived. Named after the famous Sumo wrestler, it is a “tempura fried tamari glazed gindara (black cod) roll with avocado, tobiko, spicy sesame & yuzu aioli” – ( – The light crunch, tang of the yuzu and tobiko, and spice of the sesame made it pleasantly satisfying without being overwhelming.

Typically I religiously order sushi and sashimi, underscored by a few of the usual apps, but we decided to give the bento boxes a go. I went for the Gyu Bento – sliced beef with wasabi red wine sauce, while he sprung for the Gindara Bento – “miso marinated black cod with dashi cream sauce.” (

Accompanied by steamed rice, salad, tiny sliced pickles, and hijiki, a small side of black seaweed, carrots, tofu, and lotus root, they were perfectly proportioned ‘lunch boxes’. I was not a huge fan of the salad side, but everything else was a balanced medley of flavors. Served with cabbage in the red wine wasabi sauce the steak was nicely seared and had a light tangy spice that I tend to prefer. I sampled a bit of the black cod, a contrast in flavors and consistency that gives an understated impression, but ultimately I was happy with my choice.

The whole meal was rounded out with a bowl of the Hot Pot Nabeyaki Udon. Really we probably would have been fine with the edamame, sushi roll, and bento boxes, but what the hell. The udon was amazing as usual. Piled high with shrimp and whole sweet pepper tempura, fish cakes, a whole shitake mushroom, tofu, pork slices, and a fried egg in a mushroom broth, it was beautiful. This was my first time ordering this udon bowl and I will most certainly do it again, and I have to say, we usually stick with the spicy miso ramen which is also spot on, so I can only assume that the same is probably true for their other bowls as well. There is still plenty to sample next time as we will of course be going back


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