When you walk into Pikoh, you feel like you’re walking into a Santa Barbara backyard full of kumquat trees and hanging plants. The owner, who likes to remain under the radar, says she wanted it to feel comfortable like her home and inviting to everyone. My first thought was, “This is Lunetta,” but the menu goes beyond your standard day-to-night cafe and explores Peruvian and Asian elements all wrapped into a California cuisine.
Ricardo Zarate is the hot name tied to the restaurant; he's best known for Rosaliné. But it’s also important to mention his partner, James Jung, whose influence is shown throughout the menu, from pork tonkatsu with shredded cabbage, caramelized lemon and a dash of mustard, to the white Asian sea bass with shimeji, dashi consomme and an herb crust butter that has the perfect amount of saltiness.
Pikoh's daytime menu features innovative provisions like shaksuka, chickpea hummus with steamed mussels and French toast made with algarrobina sauce and cream. Whatever you do, get the chorizo and lamb ragu over pappardelle — it was unlike any other pasta dish I’ve had, full of cilantro, spices and just the right amount of Huancaína pecorino to add some nuttiness.
When asked about who is the most likely customer, it seemed to be the locals, which is fitting considering Pikoh has a special “Drinking With Locals” menu that highlights cocktails from across the world. The concept is that if you were to go each country around the world at 3 p.m., this would be the drink locals would be indulging in, whether that be a Pisco sour from Peru, a Milano Torino from Italy or a Kaiserspritzer from Germany.
The genius behind the eclectic cocktail menu is Jamie Clark, who comes from Las Vegas and has an appetite for innovation. She has a drink special called Jamie’s Mood Swing, which is only $7 and changes weekly based on her mood. This means one week you could be drinking a brightly colored cocktail because she’s feeling happy or a ginger-based libation if she’s under the weather. My personal favorite was the Per Amalfi, infused with Greek yogurt that gives it sort of a frothy texture similar to that of a Pink Lady but without the eggy smell.
Save room for dessert, though, and dive into the panna cotta with passion fruit gelee and fresh pomegranate seeds. I’d also recommend the flourless chocolate cake, because it was the perfect balance of chocolatey gooey goodness without being overly sweet.
Pikoh is sure to be the local hangout, the foodie destination and the next restaurant to keep customers coming back due to its fearless flavors.
Pikoh, 11940 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 928-9344, pikohla.com.