That giant rooster you may have thought you heard crowing this morning wasn’t just your imagination. It was Basan clearing its throat and breathing first flames over Detroit like some magnificent new Japanese movie monster.
Basan Detroit, the third restaurant brought to life by Four Man Ladder group (the brain trust behind Brush Park’s Grey Ghost and Second Best), is named after a mythic cackler from Nipponese culture who spits cool fire and flaps its wings for attention while strutting its stuff through late-night populace hangs.
Basan’s doors open today, Nov. 15, 2022, at 4 p.m., and just like that boisterous bird who loves the nightlife and making some noise for a crowd, this newly-hatched District Detroit dining destination stands ready, kicking and scratching, to be heard from.
Pretty as a peacock, the restaurant’s two wings open on either side of the main floor foyer of the Eddystone building residences.
A hard right at the front doors leads to a soft, sultry landing on Basan’s luxuriant lounge side. Low-slung lamplight, cozy cranberry couches, and soft-shouldered cocktail tables furnish this finely feathered nest.
Across the way, a more crisply appointed dining room space boasts big-city bistro seating and clean, Asian-esque interior architecture with textured woodwork. On both sides, Basan is beautifully appointed. Chicago-based Simone Deary, the restaurant’s designers, have elevated the ground floor of this already hot property into something gorgeously more cosmopolitan.
Taking flight over a Pacific Rim of menu and bar program possibilities, Basan beckons with cocktails crafted with shochu (signature Japanese liquors), wasabi, sesame-scented bitters and such, while the inaugural savories and desserts present themselves across five categories: Buns, Skewers, Small Plates, Large Plates and Sweets.
At the media preview on Nov. 14, a “Basa Basa Old Fashioned” warmed this writer’s heart and soul with its artisan, Asian whiskey smoothed with buckwheat honey and scented with chrysanthemum (thank you, spellcheck) and yuzu kosho (think sweet-hot).
Wetted whistles led to whetted appetites and eager tastings of pillowy Bao Buns pocketing Robata-grilled, ginger Brussels sprouts, and spicy charred Bologna with puffed rice and Nori. And if you’re scratching your head over Bologna in a Bao Bun, stop. Like at Grey Ghost, it works well here, too. These guys go ga-ga over Bologna, and it’s getting a signature nod now at Basan.
I’m with you so far, guys, but I’m drawing the line at Sweet & Sour Braunschweiger.
From glazed Gyoza stuffed with Merguez (classically, spiced lamb sausage) to skewers of Chermoula-marinated Trumpet mushrooms, and grilled octopus punched way up with puckery Gochujang and fried Garlic, Executive Chef Eric Lees’ crew hinted at how Basan’s Robata (grill) kitchen intends to rustle its feathers for us going forward.
Rounding a corner, I caught Lee making things clearer as he answered a question about what Four Man Ladder Group might be cooking up for the before-and-after-the-game crowds coming and going next door at Little Caesar’s Arena.
“This isn’t about that,” Chef answered straight up, seconded by FMLG’s chef principals, Joe Giacomino and John Vermiglio. “From a price point perspective, certainly, there’s something for everyone, but this restaurant isn’t about being ancillary to anything else. We stand on our own.”
So, it seems. Basan won’t be rushing out Teriyaki and Orange Chicken bowls in the bustle before gametime.
This is where the workday can come full stop; where dinners will happen before much looked forward to evenings at Fox Theater, and whenever time to talk and toast and taste presents itself. The lounge is for lovers and ladies’ nights out, while the draped, quieted dining room’s tailored to suit new urban settlers in no hurry to take seats elsewhere or beat postgame traffic back to the burbs.
Chef Lees’ credentials epitomize both the fit and finesse you hope to find in the key hire for a high-performance kitchen. He’s worked in the top strata of the Scottsdale market I covered for years, among the very best in the business there.
In time, his abilities brought him alongside Chefs Giacomino and Vermiglio, at cutting-edge Chicagoland eateries Quince, A-10 and Yakitori-style Yusho. Basan’s been hatched after some already well-incubated, professional trust and rapport, and that’s likely to shorten and/or avert many of the birthing and growing pains associated with fledgling operations.
But what I learned about Chef Joe during this opening most inclines me to root for Four Man Ladder restaurant group and the growing number of people it supports and serves, who’ll look to its leadership.
Basan’s press premiere coincided with the sixth birthday party of Giacomino’s son. The man had good reasons to stay, accept congratulations and pose for pictures. Instead, he bowed out very early in the proceedings and went home for a better one.
Good luck, group. And happy, birthday, Sonny. You’re a lucky boy.
Basan Detroit is located at 2703 Park Ave., Detroit. They are open for dinner 4-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 4 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. Visit BasanDetroit.com for more information, and be sure to check out the food section of HourDetroit.com for more local restaurant news and reviews.