Modern Robatayaki gathers diners around the fire at Baku Waikiki

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Robatayaki with a modern flair comes to Oahu with the opening of Baku Waikiki. Slated to open in September at International Market Place, Baku will combine the energy of an izakaya with the creativity of chef-driven recipes, top-notch sushi and craft cocktails.

"Baku is going to be a great gathering place for both locals and visitors," said Joseph Rose, executive chef. "The space is chic and the cuisine is modern – fitting for special occasions – yet we'll still retain the communal and casual aspect of robata dining, also making it perfect for impromptu skewers and drinks with friends."

At Baku, the simple elements of premium cuts and open fire create wonderfully rich flavors. The centerpiece of the restaurant is the custom-built, eight-foot robata grill – a design centuries old that is fueled by binchotan, a specially-sourced charcoal made from Japanese white oak that burns at more than 800 degrees, giving meat and seafood an appealing smoky flavor. Tradition is just the beginning however. The chefs at Baku take a modern spin with their dishes in the presentation and the use of ingredients from local producers and purveyors. Dinner at Baku will showcase small plates like Big Island-grown Shishito Peppers, Hokkaido Sea Scallops, Short Rib Foie Gras Gyoza and Prime Beef Tartar. From the robata grill diners can savor USDA Prime Tomahawk, Niihau Lamb, Ginger Garlic Duck Breast and seafood options like Keahole Lobster and Hapu?upu?u (Hawaiian Sea Bass). The unique robata grill will even have an influence on some unexpected dishes from desserts to veggies like Okinawa Sweet Potato with nori butter and sea salt; and Sweet Corn with Sansho salt and lime. Baku will also serve the highest quality sushi and sashimi, such as the Omakase Ice Bowl which showcases the chef's selection of sashimi and nigiri. A meticulously curated beverage program featuring premium sake, international wines artisanal shochu and craft cocktails aimed at complementing the food will also be offered. Robata means "around the fire," and Baku will be a place that captures this essence – gathering friends, family and foodies for a dining experience that embodies simplicity and community.

"In my years in restaurant management in Hawaii, I think there's nothing quite like what we are attempting with Baku" said Keith Mallini, general manager. "Locals will enjoy it since this style of Japanese grilling is well-loved in the islands. Yet, everything has a twist of the unexpected, making the meal just a bit more fun than a standard robata restaurant."

Baku's location boasts unmatched views – peering over the bustle of Waikiki's main street, Kalakaua Avenue, and into the azure ocean horizon. The only open-air, ocean view dining experience on the third level Grand Lanai will be found at Baku's patio lounge - the perfect perch to pass an afternoon or have drinks and dinner with the setting sun. A step inside will reveal an open kitchen where the energy of the robata grilling will flow into the dining space, and the floor to ceiling glass and a retractable glass wall brings in the Waikiki surroundings. Shades of blue reminiscent of the Pacific will drape the interior, and an 18-foot, hand-painted mural of a humpback whale will grace one of the feature walls. Raw elements of the Hawaii landscape will also find their way into the décor, with locally-sourced, live-edge albizia wood countertops, bamboo-finished tables and lava rock incorporated throughout the space. The restaurant seats 150 and will be open for lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., afternoon happy hour and appetizers from 2 - 5 p.m., dinner from 5 - 10 p.m., and a late-night bar menu from 10 p.m.-midnight.

Baku specializes in Japanese cuisine prepared in an open kitchen on their signature robata grill. Robata, meaning "around the fire," uses a grill that harkens to a design originating centuries ago that burns specially sourced charcoal at more than 800 degrees to give the food an appealing smoky flavor. The cuisine is clean and simple with the complexity highlighted in the technique and plate presentation. Baku also serves the highest quality sushi and sashimi complemented with premium sake, an international wine program, artisanal shochu and hand-crafted cocktails.

For more information visit or call 808-800-3571.

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