When Brad Beracha made the decision to open BaiKu Sushi Lounge inside the Hotel Ignacio in Midtown, he wanted to take the concept of a sushi restaurant in a new direction.
“You’re eating sushi in the lobby of this boutique hotel, it’s very sexy,” Beracha says.
To make BaiKu a reality, Beracha partnered with Steve Smith, owner of a handful of local restaurants, including Trimpuh Grill, Alumni and Dooley’s, and recruited Soung Min Lee as executive sushi chef after tasting the sushi he made at Central Table Food Hall in the Central West End. Beracha also took notes from his past experiences as owner of both Araka and Miso on Meremac to create BaiKu, offering a tidy menu in a smaller space to make the experience a bit more intimate.
“And of course, I think food quality sets us apart, too,” Beracha says.
He describes the menu at BaiKu as taking sushi back to basics, with just eight specialty rolls that are more authentic without losing their flavor or quality. Beracha says with so many restaurants offering a wide variety of rolls, often fried or covered in sauces, there aren’t many restaurants in St. Louis that can offer the freshness and authenticity that diners will find at BaiKu. The restaurant is connected with Honolulu Fish, which so far has supplied the restaurant with fresh wahu, spearfish, blue marlins and blue prawns to use in dishes.
Along with its selection of sushi and nigiri, BaiKu also specializes in ramen and udon noodle dishes, which will be offered on both its lunch and dinner menus. Behind the bar, Beracha developed a specialty, high-quality sake menu for BaiKu with the assistance of Monica Samuels, the first graduate of the Masters of Sake program in the U.S.
BaiKu has celebrated an extended soft-opening period for the past few weeks, with Beracha and his team taking their time to be sure everything is ready for the grand opening on Fri., Oct. 17. Beracha says the menu has already seen three or four changes, but has now been finalized. One of Beracha's biggest focuses at BaiKu was staff training; he wanted to be sure everyone could bring a high level of service.
“I’d like to develop this place as being really vibrant, where people feel comfortable coming into the lounge and having a great bottle of sake or wine,” Beracha says.
BaiKu Sushi Lounge’s grand opening is set to take place on Oct. 17, with 6:30pm and 8:30pm seatings. To make a reservation, call 314.896.2500.
BaiKu Sushi Lounge, 3411 Olive St., Midtown, St. Louis, 314.896.2500, facebook.com/BaiKuSushi
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