Angelenos may be less familiar with Akira Back, but the chef has two busy restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip and a Michelin-starred restaurant in Seoul. Now Back is in LA, taking over the final ground floor restaurant slot at the Beverly Center, facing Third Street next to Yardbird. ABSteak opens tonight with modern steakhouse ambience, decadent beef chops, and a touch of Korean influence.
Back actually opened Yellowtail on the Sunset Strip in 2014, though it closed after a year despite solid business. Now the Korean chef is back in action with executive chef and former Top Chef contestant Brian Huskey, who worked with Ricardo Zarate at Picca.
Though the tabletop grills and the Korean pedigree would make most diners believe they’re at a Korean barbecue, Back is specifically trying to put forward an American-style steakhouse menu. Instead of banchan, diners receive a bread basket to start. Instead of sides, the only dishes accompanying the grilled meats are a selection of hot and cold plates, like thinly-sliced Pacific shrimp with gochujang or uni-topped marinated shrimp over smoked sweet potato foam. For warmer dishes, a classically Korean bossam uses sous vide-then-grilled pork belly with butter lettuce wraps and apple kimchi. The smaller dishes, which price out between $10 to $25, are meant not as steak sides, but more like appetizers.
The steak selection gets an entire page of the menu, with a massive dry-aged selection from Australia and the U.S., including 30-day Flannery bone-in prime for $30 for six ounces (most cuts seem to come in the 12 ounce size, which means diners will essentially pay $60 or so for the Flannery cut) all the way up to a 60-day whiskey-aged prime ribeye for $160 for six ounces. More reasonable cuts include non-aged NY strip for $20 (six ounces) to an Australian “picanha” for $28. The truly outlandish pricing comes for the Japanese wagyu, at $25 to $40 an ounce, and a three ounce minimum. Just a note, unlike traditional Korean barbecue, none of the steaks are marinaded.
ABSteak opened a location in Jakarta in 2017, and Akira Back hopes to make this LA outlet the launching pad to more outlets in San Francisco, Boston, and Dallas. ABSteak is open tonight from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with ongoing hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Restaurant validation covers four hours of valet parking.