Citi Dining. Bamboo Bar
During the day Bamboo Bar and its Italian neighbor Tutto Bene have a virtual monopoly on the restaurant trade in Moscow Citi. Both are strong dining contenders in the crowded Moscow restaurant market, but an urban office district like Moscow Citi (as if there were another like it) is a tough place for a restaurant at night.
Sometime in the future Moscow Citi will teem with elitny apartments served by a huge shopping mall and it may even have parking, but the crisis crippled progress. Moscow Citi remains just a few office skyscrapers and a construction camp. Starting about 7:30pm, the Citi makes a rapid transition from crazy busy to practically dead. During the day don’t expect to park within a kilometer of the building unless you have a pass into a parking garage or a driver who can double or triple-park. In the evening you can park in front of the building.
Bamboo Bar is visible from the embankment, up a broad white stairway framed by dark stone-ensconced waterfalls. The entrance to the Capital Group tower opens over a stunning, highly polished, black and white zebra marble floor. Tutto Bene is on the right, Bamboo Bar to the left.
Earth tones and natural material dominate the décor. A long, heavy marble bar stretches back on the right through the restaurant to an open kitchen. To the left, windows overlook the embankment and Moscow River. Bamboo secured its bright young chef Sergey Kozhakov and its sommelier from GQ Bar and Bamboo’s style is reminiscent of GQ. Beyond the bar, a large glass-enclosed wine room stretches to the ceiling. In the back section, Bamboo has recently installed a shellfish “Jacuzzi,” a circular compartmented tub for live oysters (180r per 100 gram), vongole clams (360r per 100 gram) and other fresh market sea offerings.
The menu is pan-Asian but appears dominated by Japanese. In addition to the essential maki rolls, nigiri and sashimi, it features battera, an Osaka style pressed sushi, called “butters” on the Bamboo menu. I tried the shrimp and salmon battera (390r), and Gunkan Kaisen (190r), the traditional battleship (nori wrapped around a rice base) in this case topped with spicy salmon, eel and crab. The sushi was fresh and excellent, however I would not have expected less in Moscow’s highly competitive Japanese food market.
For dinner, I followed the chef’s suggestions, first with Vietnam Rice Rolls with Crab (560r), and Panasian Octopus Carpaccio (850r), thinly sliced octopus arrayed around a mound of fresh avocado diced small topped with red salmon caviar. The chef’s Tam Yam Soup (390r), a Thai tradition, was breathtakingly spicy (as it should be) and rich with ample chunks of very fresh shrimp, mushroom and broccoli served with a side of delightfully pungent cilantro. I would like to find a Moscow source for this cilantro; the local grown variety is practically indistinguishable from parsley.
For a main dish, I selected Shrimp in Honey-Garlic Sauce (690r), more shrimp glazed and over a tasty, sweet, dark Asian reduction with slivers of fresh yellow, green and red bell pepper and bean sprouts. Like the other dishes, this was nicely presented and very satisfying.
The wines-by-the-glass selection is sparse with just two each of white and red starting at 360 rubles. Most bottled wines well exceed 3000 rubles, but there are some decent Asian food pairings just over 2000 rubles. Two New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Te Mata 2006 (2350r) and Mt. Nelson 2008 (2050r), and the light-bodied red Allegrini Valpolicella 2007 (2100r) are good matches for the menu. Bamboo Bar has and extensive bar menu with a large range of sake and sake cocktails and a full page of non-alcoholic juice concoctions.
Chef Kozhakov has provided Bamboo Bar with a creative menu and very good execution. Though it probably has an overflow lunchtime crowd, Bamboo should be a quiet and relaxing haunt after the Citi has retired for the day.