We’re in Week 4 of Stall Stories, brought to you by B-metro, Yellowhammer Creative (who took all the beautiful photos), and Mr. Foodie, who did the interview. This week, the famous Abhi Sainju from Bamboo on 2nd is coming to The Pizitz Food Hall, and we could not be more excited. Enjoy!
Originally from Nepal, Abhi spent his formative years in a Jesuit run boarding school in India. He has many fond memories of his time at the school, but the institutional food they served was not among them. On his monthly visits to town with his friends he would gorge himself on Indian delicacies. He showed an early interest in cooking as well both at home and at school.
Arriving in the US in 1996 for college, Abhi tended bar at Surin in Birmingham. While there he enjoyed watching the sushi being made and thinking up menu ideas for his planned future restaurant ventures. He graduated from UAB in 2003 with a degree in Information Management and Systems. After graduating he kept tending bar but began experimenting with recipes and cooking more frequently for friends who began bringing their own Tupperware and asking for favorites such as goat curry and chicken biryani.
In 2011 he heard about an opportunity to learn sushi at a local Target store. What he thought would be a few weeks of learning to efficiently make the various rolls for the lunch counter ended up being a two day crash course and quick promotion to “the sushi guy” when the previous chef left. With the basics down he began pushing himself to create original rolls, serving them first to his friends and later in catering, private parties, and bars under the name Everest Sushi.
In 2013, Abhi took Everest Sushi to the Red Zone sports bar in Southside. While there he further developed his sushi repertoire as well as testing additional menu items such as Nepalese dumplings. Later in 2014 he moved Everest to the Blue Monkey where he met his future partners for his next venture, Bamboo on 2nd.
In July of 2015, Bamboo on 2nd opened its doors and it has been packed ever since. It has received rave reviews from AL.com, What to Eat in Birmingham, and Southern Living Magazine. In 2016 AL.com named it the best Asian restaurant in Birmingham. As Executive Chef and a founding partner of Bamboo, Abhi developed a menu that draws from cuisines across Asia to create a truly unique dining experience. This includes classics from his sushi menu from Everest such as the Wham Bam Birmingham Roll as well as Nepalese Dumplings, a spicy Nepalese chicken soup called Thukpa, a light and citrusy Tako (Octopus) Salad, marinated beef skewers, and KFC: Kathmandu Fried Chicken.
Abhi’s concept for MoMo at the Pitzitz combines creative takes on Bahn Mi and MoMos. Bahn Mi are Vietnamese sandwiches served on a lighter variation of the classic French baguette specific to Vietnam. They include grilled pork or chicken, fresh herbs, and pate. Abhi’s Bahn Mi will feature options such as pork belly, lemon grass chicken, and seasonal vegetables. Momo is the Nepalese word for dumpling. Among the Momos featured will be Abhi’s Nepalese Momos with ground turkey and vegetables in Alabama tomato vinaigrette (a light tomato based broth). Abhi’s mother’s special will also be available which utilizes seasonal mixed vegetables with a special Momo sauce.