Baku, which originally opened in 2013, went under new ownership in late 2016. New owners Birdie Yang and Janine Lu also own Yama Asian Fusion in SouthPark and Yama Izakaya in Plaza Midwood. Scallionpancake came here on a media night to try some offerings from the new chef (who was formerly at Bistro la Bon), and then we came back again with our bestest friend Lorin (AKA Hamiltoe) for a more detailed look at their menu.
On media night, we met their fabulous PR manager Bruce Hensley, who also manages restaurant week in Charlotte. Did you know that the bi -yearly restaurant week results in an 8.2 million dollar economic impact for the city? Holy food service, Batman! Bruce was great, and he gave us lots of cool insider info, like that owner Yang is a Level Two Sake Sommelier, and that the fish Baku uses in their sushi is flown in daily from New York and Hawaii (original origin: Japan). I also learned that Bruce's daughter is getting married soon at the Foundation for the Carolinas, which is where Scallionpancake tied the knot! So, we obviously chatted wedding details for most of the night.
Here are some shots of the interior of the restaurant...
There is not a thing I tried on the menu that I wouldn't recommend, but here are some favorites...
Wagyu Beef Tartare with house made potato chips
Spicy Hamachi Rice Crispy Treat
Kurobuta Pork Belly Skewer
Assortment of sushi rolls
The desserts at Baku are all made in house (more on that below), and we loved both that we tried.
Chocolate Lava Cake
Baku's sake collection is beyond impressive--they have the most extensive collection in the state with 75-80 different varieties on their menu permanently, and then they also offer 10-15 rotating sakes on special. They even offer a bottle that is 1K! Yeah, save that one for an *extra* special night (like, maybe when you win the lottery). We enjoyed some budget friendly cold sake, and it was light and refreshing for summer.
Baku is a great date night spot, as it is romantically lit and feels a little fancy, but not so much so that you feel the need to get dressed to the nines. It works perfectly as a mid-week spot to catch up with your spouse and do something a little more elevated than a usual weeknight dinner.
Asian Fusion Hospitality:
The service we received was impeccable, and not just on media night. It was just as solid when we returned for a repeat visit. Our waiter checked in on us frequently and had a great sense of humor.
Restaurant week is like Christmas in January/July for Charlotteans; You can get tipsy on Natty Light, or you can get tipsy on a 1K bottle of sake--this is America, guys, and the choice is yours; That is, if you believe that the American Dream still exists; Not trying to get heavy, just questioning the possibility of social mobility in 2017 and the disappearing middle class; On a lighter note, Jason has a physical inability to not order pork belly when he sees it on a menu; Hamiltoe requested to take the above sheep home, and was brutally rebuffed; I casually questioned whether the chocolate lava cake was made in house prior to ordering it, and while I was in the bathroom Jason and Lorin told on me to the waiter and said that I vocalized my doubt re: the origin of the cake and shamed me; I don't know why I go out with them at all; Just kidding, they are my favorites!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Disclaimer: One of the meals above was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are our own, and we were not compensated for this review.