Time Out says
Ricardo Zarate's latest is an international jaunt, bringing the Westside his deft ability to blend culture and tradition.
Ricardo Zarate is a “classical” chef, and I’m not just referring to his cooking. His career’s undertaken the path of the mythological Icarus, and then, the phoenix: He experienced a Jonathan Gold-fueled rise from a food court in Mercado La Paloma to national fame, followed by an equally rapid and painful freefall. But given the latter, we've had the pleasure of seeing the talented chef rise from the ashes of his past to create a restaurant as raucous and enjoyable as Rosaliné.
Zarate’s latest and quietest opening is already winning nods of approval, and it’s deserved—for the food, at least—because at Pikoh, Zarate’s cooking is as well-executed and fearlessly flavored as ever.
Described as “Californian,” the menu at Pikoh contains elements of Japanese, Korean, Levantine, Italian and, of course, his native Peruvian cuisine; generally, the menu avoids what in Britain we call being “culturally all over the shop” because of Zarate’s ability to make unlikely combinations work. Smoked salmon seems an odd choice for a ceviche ($15), but the cured fish worked well to add a briny quality to the dish, and asparagus skewers ($9) delivered more than expected with rocoto pepper aioli and furikake combining for a memorable bite.
The arroz con pollo ($19) and the happy-hour anticucho ribs ($9) may be more firmly in Zarate’s wheelhouse, yet they worked the least: The heavily seasoned rice and Huancaína sauce helped to compensate for the dryness of the chicken breast, at least, while the ribs sat atop a slaw that delivered enough heat to wipe out the flavor of the ribs’ marinade. Perhaps best of all was the pork tonkatsu ($16), a dish served with Japanese curry rice and a sunny-side egg for an additional supplement ($8): The pork chop breading gave the prerequisite crunch, and the rice, egg and sweet Japanese curry practically sing when mixed together.
With a few exceptions, the food at Pikoh more or less hits the spot; the service, too, was amiable throughout our visits. But there are elements about Pico Boulevard’s newcomer that make me wonder what its longevity will be: The restaurant design looks as if it were picked at random from a “Restaurants-R-Us” template, and it’s hard to imagine this space ever matching the buzz the food deserves. Is this Westside neighborhood joint really the top setting to show off Zarate’s skills to best effect? Looking at my notes, I found I wrote the words, “A Rolls Royce engine in a Toyota Corolla body.”
A tad harsh, maybe, but I have my doubts about how long this will last. I hope I'm wrong. But at least for as long as this culinary Rolls Royce is on the Westside, I’ll probably be a regular.
WHERE TO SIT
Pikoh isn't situated on a particularly pretty strip of Pico, but the patio is already proving popular. Inside, the restaurant offers the standard options of bar seating and tables to hold various sized parties, but I liked the challenge of balancing in the narrow booths for two people, from which you have a great view of the bar or the dining room.
WHAT TO EAT
Zarate’s skills are well-honed enough that there are very few duff notes on the menu, but the pork tonkatsu and the smoked-salmon ceviche show him at his best. Desserts are also well handled, and a chocolate tres leches cake ($10) is a great one to share. In many ways I preferred the brunch, and can see this becoming my weekend destination for the hangover-reducing hanger steak lomo saltado with pommes frites, arugula, chimichurri and organic egg ($24).
WHAT TO DRINK
Much like the design of the restaurant, the drink list at Pikoh feels slightly identikit. A range of passable beers and the wines offered by the bottle or three-ounce glass are designed as much not to offend as to complement, and ditto the short list of cocktails and non-alcoholic options. But at brunch they brew an excellent cup of tea, for which my British heart can forgive them just about anything else.
11940 W Pico Blvd
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 7am-10pm, Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-3pm|
|Do you own this business?|