A bowl of pork ramen at Bakuto in Lindenhurst.

A bowl of pork ramen at Bakuto in Lindenhurst. Credit: Noah Fecks

There was no place on Long Island remotely like Bakuto. And now there is no more Bakuto. The Lindenhurst restaurant closed at the end of May.

Bakuto was probably the most authentic Japanese restaurant on Long Island even though it served no sushi. Chef-partner Zachary Rude’s menu drew inspiration from the Japanese small-plates tradition of izakaya that centers on robata (skewered, grilled meats), noodles (ramen and udon) and steamed buns. In the manner of a true Japanese kitchen, his was also inspired by local produce, with vegetables from Brookhaven’s H.O.G. Farm making its way into a light shio-style ramen, steamed buns and an extravagant fried rice with pork belly and a poached egg.

The drinks program was serious in conception but whimsical in execution: The “jasmine” was a frighteningly drinkable blend of gin, brandy, jasmine, lemon, salted plum and bubbles — served in a smiling ceramic kitty whose paw “held” the straw. And the dining room was every bit as singular, the dining room walls aswirl with images based on the elaborate tattoos displayed by bygone Japanese gamblers, the so-called bakuto.

Rude and his partner, general manager Rachel Dettori, opened less than four months before the pandemic and they managed to power through that first terrible year, scoring a 3-star review from Newsday and landing on the list of Top 100 Long Island restaurants for the next four years. “The two years after COVID we were crushing it,” he said. “But the numbers this past year have been down. We felt lucky that someone made us an offer on the space, we felt we had to take it.”

“It’s bittersweet,” he continued. “We opened in this town hoping it would ‘blow up’ and there is a lot more going on then when we started. Maybe the concept was too ‘niche.’ Up until the end people would come in, look around and when I told them we didn’t have California rolls, they’d leave.”

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