It's kind of a clever stroke to resurrect the ornate tattoos that once covered the backs of 19th-century Japanese gamblers and incorporate them into a restaurant design. Or fillet porgy, the ubiquitous local fish, into a crudo with crispy fried garlic slivers and shiso leaves. Or even simply to open Long Island's first robata restaurant.
These things converge at Bakuto, a new spot in Lindenhurst that channels an izakaya — or Japanese-style gastropub — and one that occupies (and decoratively obliterates) a former Quiznos.
The venture comes from Zachary Rude, the executive chef and partner of Bay Shore's Verde Kitchen & Cocktails, who seems to have thrown himself into Japanese bar food with the same gusto he did regional Mexican. Also on board is Patrick Capellini, formerly of the Brixton and the Eleven Madison park organization, who's devised a compelling cocktail and sake program that's on hold until Bakuto receives its liquor license.
The space is slim and sultry, with a row of tables, a sleek bar and an it's-always-3 a.m. vibe that draws from on metal, red leather, tinted backlighting and tattoo designs (created by Matt Beckerich of Fountainhead, New York) blown up into wallpaper. (The space was designed by Anto Gabriele and Matthew Busch of Parti Haus).
A sizable portion of Bakuto's opening menu is given over to robotayaki, skewered meats, fish or vegetables grilled over charcoal on a red-hot robata grill, which occupies one corner of the open kitchen. Among them is duck tsukune (a sort of oblong meatball) with pear, miso and shiso; there are also grilled chicken wings, pumpkin, tilefish or scallops accented in varying ways, from maple to yuzu to togarashi. These start at $9 for two skewers.
Rude makes house udon noodles for meat (beef) and vegetable (tofu, squash and pumpkin) udon bowls ($24 and $17, respectively) and uses Sun noodles for a pork ramen in a shoyu broth, $19. Besides a changing roster of crudo, snacks also include steamed buns (including a fried chicken katsu iteration), $10 to $11.
The impeccably arranged bar feels coiled like a snake and ready to spring; in the meantime, the bar is serving a few mocktails. They'll eventually sling Japanese-style cocktails — one combines sake, mezcal, verjus and falernum — as well as sake from both the West Coast and Japan, a few wines by the glass and Japanese beers, including both a white ale and lager from Hitachino Nest.
Bakuto is currently open for dinner from 4 p.m. daily.
Bakuto, 121 N. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst. 631-225-1760. bakutobar.com