Sushi and summer go together like beer and backyard barbecues. Combine the two and what do you get? Backhouse, a Japanese yakatori and sushi bar in West L.A. This vibrant locale on Pico Boulevard charms young, old, trendy and bookish patrons looking for great sushi fare and tantalizing grilled skewers. Add a happening bar scene and what’s not to like?
Backhouse is a friendly environment welcoming to all, whether you’re dressed in a buttondown coming from work, or in beach clothes heading home after sunset.
Our group merged at the restaurant near the 405 and were seated at a table in the pine wood paneled dining room. We started with shisito peppers topped with shaved bonito, blending the spice of the peppers with the saltiness of the fish. A round of drinks was in order to cool the fire, and several of us chose ice cold Stone IPA and Sapporo. Their drink menu offers interesting selections like a lychee martini and the award-winning Osaka smash. Bartender Ben Hammer invented the drink made with muddled lemon, Shiso leaves and fresh ginger topped with Yamazaki 12-year-old single malt whiskey and ginger liquer. Shake the ingredients and pour into an ice-filled glass and voila, it’s Hammer’s Osaka smash. And of course a variety of sakes are offered as well.
We started with carpaccio of yellowtail with jalapeño in a citrus ponzu sauce and an albacore carpaccio topped with crispy garlic, onions and ponzu. While the two dishes seemed similar, they tasted totally different. The yellowtail was lighter due to the citrus, while the albacore had a rich depth of flavor with the garlic and onions adding texture as well. Both were very good.
We selected two types of oysters from the six offered that day, freshly shucked and served on a bed of ice. The smaller Fanny Bay were sweet while the larger Kuamotta had a nutty flavor. For Happy Hour, these mollusks are just $1 each.
We then shared a dish of crispy garlic Brussles sprouts that were very well caramelized and had a nice, crunchy exterior.
The Brussels sprouts served as a nice side dish to the grilled yakatori we sampled, like the rib-eye, a chef’s specialty. The marinated rib eye was tender and excellently seasoned. Bacon wrapped scallops were a little light on the bacon, yet the scallops were grilled for only 2-3 minutes, rendering them nice and tender.
The pork belly yakatori had a deliciously crispy skin and tender meat, and the chicken meatball skewers were equally as tasty.
Wanting to finish our meal on a lighter note, we ordered the seared salmon carpaccio with truffle oil and caviar. The edges of the salmon were ever-so-slightly seared with a cool inside. The truffle oil and caviar give this dish an intensely satisfying polish, providing a crescendo to the meal.
Backhouse has another location in Burbank, yet Pico is the flagship. Slated to open in the fall is Backhouse above its sister restaurant, EMC Seafood in Koreatown. Owners Michael and Mark Kwan have a winning recipe when it comes to restaurants – they keep their customers happy and satisfied and serve high quality food in inviting environments.
Backhouse Sushi and Yakitori bar is located at 10915 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90064; (310)481-6800. www.backhouserestaurant.com
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