On a Roll

A popular chainlet of Portland Vietnamese restaurants continues its rapid expansion with a cozy new outpost at 10th and Couch.

The team behind Bambuza (100 NW 10th Ave, 503-477-6641, bambuza.com), which opened its new Pearl location in June 2017, takes no shortcuts when it comes to ensuring an authentic Vietnamese dining experience. “Last year, we went to Vietnam,” says Sheryl Warren, director of human resources and community relations, referring to a trip led by the restaurant’s owners, Katherine and Daniel Nguyen. “We were looking for a specific jasmine rice that we can validate is grown in Vietnam, and by workers who are treated fairly.”

The stylish casual restaurant now directly imports that rice and labels it under the restaurant’s name. Bambuza was begun in Seattle by Daniel’s parents, who initiated the concept, right down to the dining room’s striking orange silk lanterns, a signature design element in all five Bambuza locations around Portland.

Warren describes the culinary approach as “fresh and genuine. All the herbs and spices are totally authentic, and they source locally whenever possible. It’s like you’re eating in a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.”

The menu excels with a range of dishes, including classics like salad rolls with a flavorful house-made peanut sauce, Hanoi-style beef pho with freshly made rice noodles, and pork bánh mì sandwiches. But a few house specialties stand out, in particular, the Luc Lac beef, comprising cubed filet mignon stir-fried in a wok with butter, red onions, and French brandy. You’ll find a full bar, serving such specialty cocktails as spicy mango margaritas and tamarind whiskey sours.

Bambuza is also deeply community-oriented. They hold school nights during which 50 percent of all revenue—not just profits—are donated to a local school, and they support a number of other local and international charitable organizations. –Andrew Collins | photos by Paul Wagtouicz