One of this year’s last big restaurant openings has been hiding under the radar for some time, but Blackship opens tomorrow, December 12, in West Hollywood from chef Keiichi Kurobe, formerly for Hinoki & The Bird. Produced in conjunction with Culinary Lab, which operates Hinoki, as well as Rosaliné, Blackship combines elements of Japanese cooking with handmade Italian pasta on the busy intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Cienega. Eater sits down with Kurobe, who’s opening his first solo restaurant in LA, his culinary background, and what will help separate Blackship from the numerous other openings in the city this past year.
- Keiichi Kurobe was the sous chef under Brandon Kida at Hinoki & The Bird, but trained under Daniel Humm at Campton Place. Humm is now the chef of Eleven Madison Park and a partner of NoMad in Downtown LA. Kuroke learned many things at Campton Place under Humm but says he developed a passion for pasta there. Kurobe also credits Dominique Crenn as a mentor. Crenn just received a third Michelin star for her namesake Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, though she also cooked in Los Angeles at a Santa Monica restaurant called Abode.
- Many of the flavors and dishes at Blackship gain their inspiration from Kurobe’s unique upbringing and travels. He was born in the U.S. but moved to Japan at an early age. The name Blackship refers to what he learned in school in Japan about the arrival of European and American ships, or kurofune in Japanese. These ships ended Japan’s isolation with the rest of the world, resulting in an exchange of cooking techniques and dishes. Think of tempura, which was a technique acquired from Portuguese missionaries. Hence Blackship hopes to meld Japanese flavors and ingredients with styles from across the world, but especially Italian. In addition to his time in Japan, Kurobe considers himself fortunate to have been able to travel to many other parts of the world with his family, and will incorporate those experiences at Blackship.
- Blackship will house about 100 seats both inside and outside on a patio at 8512 Santa Monica Boulevard, which is a standalone building right next to the first LA Shake Shack location. The second floor will eventually open into a cocktail-oriented lounge with room for even more imbibers.
- Sean Knibb of Knibb Design will put together the space, with inspiration from Italian gardens on the patio, and a modern, oceanic look inside featuring an open kitchen, brick oven, and marble bar. Knibb contributed design for A Frame in Culver City and elements of The Line Hotel.
- Pasta is the highlight of the menu, with carbonara “ramen” with guanciale-style pork belly, chashu, and egg yolk hoping to become Kurobe’s signature dish. A hamachi bolognese comes with soba caserecce while shingiku (chrysanthemum) gnocchi comes with brown butter dashi and pecorino cheese. Other dishes include kurobuta pork chop with koji polenta and miso mostarda while a chicken karaage tortellini melds two classics of both Japanese and Italian cuisines. When asked about why these dishes worked, Kurobe said that the more subtle, often delicate flavors of Japan will get a boost from the more forward elements of Italian cuisine.
- Blackship is Kurobe’s first major restaurant in Los Angeles, and it opens right along some of West Hollywood’s busiest restaurant corridors. Just around the corner, Nobu Los Angeles, 40 Love, The Nice Guy, Petite Taqueria, E.P. & L.P., Rosaline, Lucques, Fig & Olive, and Barton G serve along the intersection of La Cienega and Melrose. David Chang’s new Momofuku Noodle Bar will open down the way while Raku continues to draw the late night crowd. Down Santa Monica Boulevard, Shake Shack, The Abbey, and the rest of West Hollywood’s Boystown continues to bustle.
It puts Blackship in a prime location to draw more of the scene crowd from West Hollywood and its environs while remaining accessible enough for anyone in the Hollywood Hills and potentially lower in Beverly Grove. The location should be a boon to Blackship’s overall profile, though the traffic-laden corner could be an issue for anyone coming in from another neighborhood. Still many of the eateries nearby are packed full of patrons every night, which bodes well for filling seats.
Blackship is located on 8512 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, CA. Opening date is December 12, 2018, with hours from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Book a table here.