Name of restaurant: Bachi Burger. It's meant to refer to both a Japanese habachi grill, and "bachi," which can refer to karma in Japanese.
Concept: It's a Las Vegas burger joint that recently opened Southern California outlets on Sawtelle Boulevard and in Old Town Pasadena. The restaurant is known for taking Asian fusion to the extreme, incorporating Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese flavors on the menu — sometimes all in the same burger. In addition to burgers, there's stuffed steamed buns, smothered fries and milkshakes.
Which dishes represent the restaurant and why: The Banh Mi burger. The patty is made from ground Angus beef, ground Duroc pork, diced shrimp, panko breadcrumbs and an egg. Before hitting the grill, it's dunked in a marinade of sugar, fish sauce, yellow Thai curry, lime juice, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, tumeric, Thai basil, cilantro and Thai chile. It's seared, then dipped in the marinade again before returning to the grill, creating a sweet and salty crust on the meat. The burger is topped with two slices of cured pork loaf, Vietnamese mint, cilantro, Thai basil and lettuce, and served on a fluffy Taiwanese sweet bread bun. The burger is served with a side of pickled daikon and carrots, slivers of jalapeno and a small dish full of Vietnamese nuoc cham for dipping. See what I meant about the whole fusion thing now?
There's also a Mr. Ho's Burger with a beef and pork patty, sauteed mushrooms, lap cheong Chinese sausage and lettuce on a purple taro bun; truffle, Parmesan fries with a sun dried tomato aioli; and Wagyu short rib steamed baos with hoisin barbecue sauce, boiled egg, radish, cilantro and Chinese black vinaigrette. It's every fusion restaurant/food truck on one menu.
Who’s at the next table? Groups of young twentysomethings sipping on beer and munching on fries. A couple of dates go halfsies on their hamburgers, and a large table in the corner gets a little rowdy during an office holiday dinner party.
Appropriate for … : Big groups. There are long communal tables and fries perfect for sharing.
Uh-oh: The fried chicken is not what you're expecting. It's not on the bone, and it isn't a plate of wings. Rather, it's a bowlful of small, bite-size pieces of fried chicken covered in a sweet chile sauce. You'll instantly think of orange chicken.
Service: Friendly and eager to make suggestions. But beware: When prompted, everything is your server's "favorite" thing on the menu.
What are you drinking: A bottle of ice cold Nigiri, a peanut butter chocolate milkshake or boba milk tea.
Info: 2030 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, (424) 832-3018, wwwbachiburger.com.
I like that restaurants call Thousand Island dressing "special sauce." Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_