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Bachi does burgers better

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The almighty Ronin burger
Photo: Jet Tila
Jet Tila

What do you get when one of Roy Yamaguchi’s top guns decides to leave the coop and setup a cool burger joint with the help of some talented family and fellow co-workers? You get Bachi Burger!

Calling this a burger “joint” is like calling Raku a plain old pub. This place captures the essence of that magic when a fine dining chef dials it down a couple notches and just cooks food he wants to eat. The chef, in this case, is Lorin Watada who, along with his brother Ehrin (self-proclaimed face man), decided to strike out and lead this talented and fun group.

The Bachi experience

The Bachi Burger room is a little sterile and doesn’t prepare you well for the explosion of personality coming out of the kitchen with fun and exciting dishes, interesting soft drinks and well-priced brews. It’s almost a contradiction to over-gush about this place, because it’s just straight up creative and relevant food. And it’s totally up my alley because it completely captures that generation of Asian kids that are born in America to immigrant parents. Kids that grow up eating burgers in houses where their parents were eating lao lao, Kahlua pork, char sui and kimchi! This is a generation that completely understands the Asian and America kitchen with a splash of French culinary technique.

Restaurant Guide

Bachi Burger
470 East Windmill Lane, 242-2244.
11 a.m.-2 a.m., daily.
Bachi Burger

The menu at Bachi feels well worn and comfortable, like a favorite weekend pair of shorts. It’s exactly what the chef wanted to put on the menu, and it’s well thought through.

Offering more than just burgers, the menu has a few steamed sandwiches made with Chinese bao-style bread with your choice of duck, short rib, or pork belly. I had all three and the pork belly is not to be missed, slow-braised, with just enough fat rendered out. The belly is smothered in a sweet black bean or hoisin style sauce that plays perfectly with rich pork and is countered with the welcomed bitterness of mixed greens and perfectly boiled egg slivers.

As for the namesake burgers, they share some common components. All are based on a patty that is obviously a homemade beef concoction, and then they are let loose and accompanied by some fun and very Asian partners. My favorite specialty burger by far (so far) is the banh mi burger. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that usually consists of a few sliced meats, pate and pickled vegetables served on a baguette. They’ve taken the traditional patty and ground in some shrimp and pate and seasoned it with palm sugar and fish sauce, in essence making a marinated patty that the Vietnamese would loosely call nem noung. Then slam that into the Hawaiian-style airy, cakey, sweet bun and top it with lettuce and pickled carrot and daikon. While eating it I found a surprise under the patty; they’ve taken yet another piece of Vietnamese pork cold cut and hid it there as a bonus.

Also not to be missed is the Ronin burger. What happens when a samurai burger loses its Master? It becomes Ronin. Traditionally, katsu or “cutlet” was breaded/fried then served with miso soup, a fried egg, and Japanese slaw. Bachi chefs have turned it into a burger by putting the egg and slaw in the burger and turned the miso soup into miso sauce. Friggin’ genius!

And you must save room for dessert. Sous/Pastry Chef Keris Kuwana not only provides the eye candy within this motley male bunch, she also brings some serious pastries along with her beauty. Sweets are not an afterthought; you’re expected to save room for dessert, and it says so on the menu! You’ll want to for the macadamia nut toffee cake or the hot fresh-fried and sugared Portuguese donuts!

Dudes, I could go on and on and on, but I’ll leave you with an easy game plan:

Absolutely eat your way through all the specialty burgers with trippy names like the Crusty Crab and Kalbi Burger and make them bring all the cool mayos and aiolis like Ko ju Jang mayo and Chili garlic Aioli.

Sweet potato and garlic salt and pepper fries.

Sweet potato and garlic salt and pepper fries.

Sweet potato fries were my fave, but the table also gave high marks for the garlic salt and pepper fries. Of the apps, the kurabata sausages and chili-fried chicken were stupid good! Again, eat the pork belly bun and smear even more of their garlic hoisin on it. I’ve even fantasized about using the Ronin slaw on the pork belly bun; I wonder if they might permit me next time?

And don’t forget to try a cool soft drink! I’d recommend the calamansi (Filipino lime) sparkling lime aid or Vietnamese iced coffee.

If I had to pick a bone about anything, it’s the service. It’s not that they don’t try hard or care; it’ll just take time to iron out the sequence of service and establish service standards. With the right service staff, this place would be a complete dining experience every time!

Bachi is one of the most refreshing dining experiences to hit this city in a long time. All the components are there - a magical kitchen crew with a rich history that practices fusion not confusion and a young culinary energy that is poised to help put Las Vegas on the culinary cool map within the genre of Momofuku, Kogi, and Baohaus. And that map, is really friggin’ cool.

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