Food Experience

No Grill Required

Lekker BBQ introduces the Japanese art of tableside steaming to Federal Hill

Posted

Lekker BBQ’s menu draws influences from Korea and Japan. Its signature offering, Seiro-Mushi, is a Japanese method of steaming meat, seafood, and vegetables in large, square bamboo steamers.

When I entered the renovated Atwells Avenue space, I was surprised by how cozy it felt, with rustic wood walls and eclectic decor that verged on steampunk with a dash of American barbeque aesthetic. An amusing mural in the style of cave paintings shows the progression from prehistoric hunter societies to the modern restaurant.

We started our meal with a scallion pancake. It was delicious, more delicate and translucent than usual, served with a traditional dipping sauce. Next, we chose a couple of selections from the Kebabs menu: a classic Yakitori (chicken skewer) and grilled eel with a sweet sauce. We were impressed by these and I would like to try more, like the lamb or cauliflower kebabs.

We ordered two rounds of Seiro-Mushi, one with a combination of beef and vegetables and the other with assorted seafood. Each order can feed one to two people. Though Seiro-Mushi is not as interactive as a hot pot or Korean barbeque, it’s still a production. Each table at Lekker BBQ has an induction cooker in its center. A square dish of water sits on the induction cooktop, ready to steam the ingredients. The large, square covered steamer is placed on top. Our meat and vegetable combo steamed for about ten minutes while we enjoyed our appetizers; the seafood was prepared in the kitchen so we could enjoy it at the same time.

Lekker offers high quality beef, including prime short rib and Wagyu. Our choice, the prime short rib, was thinly sliced and had more marbling than some of the other cuts, which added flavor to the other ingredients. I appreciated the selection of vegetables, which included Japanese yam, enoki mushrooms, kabocha squash, edamame, and wide slices of carrot. Our seafood steamer contained several large quahogs, mussels, and snow crab legs. The Seiro-Mushi is served with a multinational trio of dipping sauces: Japanese soy sauce, Korean Gochujang sauce, and a Chinese sesame sauce.

When we finished our Seiro-Mushi, we didn’t expect the treat that would follow – a round of fresh ramen noodles simmered in the steaming broth. The broth was surprisingly flavorful and the noodles had a great texture. We all remarked on the utensils – metal chopsticks with a matching ramen spoon, as pleasant to use as they were stylish.

Steam cooking is incredibly healthy. These days, when it seems everyone is following a specialty diet, this restaurant could be a good dinner choice to accommodate a party with diverse diets like gluten-free, Whole 30, low-carb, and paleo.

Along with Seiro-Mushi, Lekker has a tableside skewer grill, Korean barbeque, and a couple of other entree selections including bibimbap.

There’s also a small selection of desserts including the one we tried: a grilled banana split with Matcha ice cream. This cultural mashup was a fitting ending at a restaurant that takes inspiration from various cuisines.

Lekker BBQ
210 Atwells Ave. • 285-9999