Poke (po-KAY), the Hawaiian staple, is finally gaining in popularity on the mainland. BaiKu’s version is worthy, with both a nod toward the traditional and some innovative twists. Cubes of fresh ruby-dark tuna are splashed with soy sauce and tossed with green onions, sea salt, chopped napa cabbage, and nibbles of bright Japanese chilies. It’s a salad—with a bowl of rice alongside—that’s substantial enough for a full meal with all the beautiful taste of the ocean.
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Hotels at one time were the epicenter of fine dining and drinking. When visiting a new city, a traveler was well-advised to find a quality hotel if he or she desired to have the best meal in town. This still is the case in some high-end hotels around St. Louis, like the boutique Hotel Ignacio in Midtown.
Is it possible for a hotel restaurant and bar to be a comfortable, swanky and even sexy place to get a drink? That is just one of the questions Brad Beracha has successfully answered in the affirmative with the opening of his BaiKu Sushi Lounge in the lobby of the Hotel Ignacio in Midtown. BaiKu is a place where you can get a glass of handcrafted sake, a local beer or an excellent glass of wine in an environment that is aptly described by the aforementioned adjectives. In other words, it is far from the sushi joints serving all-you-can-eat rolls and sake bombs to coeds in other parts of town.
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SLU’s Hotel Ignacio, launched a few years ago, has finally opened its restaurant, and it was worth the wait. The top-notch sushi lounge—tiny, with about a dozen tables—is intimate, nightclubby and delicious. It’s got a cool, urban vibe that suits the hip lobby area. Contemporary white walls are enhanced by a massive industrial sculpture all along one side. A large ‘light column’ changes colors, giving the room, variously, an orange or blue glow, and separates the sushi kitchen from the dining tables.