Only open about two and a half months, the new modern hip restaurant Bamboo Izakaya is just a stone’s throw from the Santa Monica Pier. Across the street from the beach, you can watch the sunset while enjoying your favorite Japanese California creation. I felt relaxed and warmer inside enjoying my warm saki and delicious tempura vegetables, although very comfortable seating exists outside too. The tempura veggies were just the right crispness and included eggplant, cucumber, shrimp, and what looked like mini bamboo sticks, but otherwise known as sawmen noodles.
A Japanese baseball veteran owns this establishment, which started in San Francisco with U Sushi. Chef Tashi has created a tapas style menu that is not intimidating and is meant to be shared. Prices are very reasonable. They have an affordable happy hour menu that runs from $5 – $10 for drinks and small bites. Like other sushi restaurants, they offer classic and specialty rolls, like Xmas, Dragon, Backed Crab, Rainbow, Spider, Cali, Phili, and Salmon Skin as well as robata skewers. Also, they offer a Bamboo Pre Fixe for $40 of your favorites or their choices, a Dinner Set that includes miso soup, salad, rice, and one of four main choice dishes, and a Bamboo Platter for four for $80, which allows you to sample eight of Bamboo’s favorite items.
An interesting starter that might surprise you are the cheeseburger croquettes – not bad! I was told to mush them before eating. The seared albacore was tasty, but the tuna, salmon, and halibut sushi with rice were marginal. Definitely not that same freshness I have experienced at other sushi restaurants, like Sugar Fish in Beverly Hills. Our meal ended with the Alaskan black cod which sits in a thirty-six hour marinade. Truly melt in your mouth delicious and comparable to other restaurants like Nobu. The dessert we had was rather disappointing for a chocolate fondue. The chocolate was cold and there weren’t many fruit items I even wanted to dip. Since this is such a new restaurant, I hope to come back and see how they have grown and mastered their menu.
Just behind Bamboo Izakaya is the first private club on the west side called 41 Ocean. A swanky bar with hip waiters adds to the cool vintage decor inside and out. The warm glow makes me want to sit outside with my favorite friends, laugh ’til it hurts, and drink some cocktails while listening to the live music that just rolled in. While there, my girlfriend and I are approached by some investors who are interested in this new exclusive haunt. We become friends with the actor/host named Ronnie “Rose” Rosania who raves about the new spot. Apparently there are about 350 members already. You have the Soho House in West Hollywood, and now this brings some intimacy to the west side. I could see this being a perfect spot for the older crowd who would like to get away from the packed latest hotspot Bungalow at the Fairmont Hotel nearby and meet some unique characters perhaps of equal mindset – who enjoy intimacy, privacy, luxury.
Celebrated Chef Raphael Lunetta is the Club’s Executive Chef and the drinks are inspired by Noah Ellis, who was asked to share his creativity and insight to develop the finest classic California club cocktails. Some of the dinner menu items include $30 pappardelle bolognese with ragu of New Zealand lamb, $16 Dungeness crab cakes, $18 Moroccan Shrimp Scampi, and $44 Filet of Beef. A raised dining area with a 1910 upright Weser piano and a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system enhances the mood. Live performances by top talents are part of the draw – including some of their own members – and late night DJ’s. Check out their blog to fall in love with their members and employees here. Annual memberships start at $2000 a year, and members can bring up to five guests at a time for dinner, drinks, and the chance to say they were there. I really hope to return to both spots – a sunset drink and sushi bites at Bamboo followed by well crafted cocktails and live music with my favorite pals at 41 Ocean. Surely a night to remember!
1541 Ocean Avenue Suite #120
Santa Monica, CA 90401