What do we mean when we say a meal is “healthy”? It’s a question I was forced to ponder over a few recent meals at the new westside breakfast and lunch spot Bachi HLK. Because the HLK in the title stands for “Healthy Life Kitchen.” According to the menu, the restaurant believes in “sourcing ingredients of quality, raised in ways that minimize impact on the environment and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.” They also have an array of juices, several vegetarian options and a handful of gluten-free dishes. So yes, this place is probably healthier for you and for the planet than most restaurants. But as I was digging into fried chicken and waffles on a recent visit, enjoying a cocktail from the full bar, I didn’t really feel like I was increasing my life expectancy. And that’s just fine with me. I prefer to take my healthful eating in baby steps, as long as the chef brings plenty of flavor to the table.
The menu at Bachi HLK actually does offer many healthful choices. You can get a green-tea crepe; blueberry flax granola; quinoa with cottage cheese, fruit and honey; or a “crunch salad” of kale, Brussels sprouts, apple, cabbage, radicchio, sunflower seeds, endive, quinoa, blue cheese and walnuts. But you’ll also find more than a half-dozen egg dishes and plenty of pancakes, waffles and French toast. And the healthiness of the lean ostrich burger seems painfully outweighed by the torchon of foie gras, also on the menu.
What makes Bachi’s menu interesting are the small touches. That ostrich burger, for example, comes topped with pineapple ketchup, grilled onions and charred tomato, with bacon, fried egg and blue or Gruyère cheese optional. There are three types of sausage available with breakfast, as well as three different syrups. And the various house-made jellies and jams are delicious.
Among my favorite dishes here so far has been an order of wild-mushroom hash made with several varieties of mushroom, potato, kale, Gruyère, egg, onions and béchamel. It had a complex earthiness to it that clearly demonstrated I wasn’t in just any old breakfast joint. The restaurant’s take on a Monte Cristo sandwich—made with roast turkey and Gruyère—was also outstanding, a beautiful spin on a breakfast standard.
I wasn’t quite as impressed with the aforementioned chicken and waffles. While the green-onion waffles and accompanying curry butter and coconut syrup were delicious, the sweet chili sauce on the strips of fried chicken was heavy and overpowering. It’s not that I didn’t like the flavors; I just would have preferred if the chef had incorporated them into the breading, rather than a sauce.
While I generally like the food at Bachi HLK a lot, I have had a few other disappointments. The chicken apple sausages are far too sweet for my taste. And the hollandaise sauce on the eggs Benedict is incredibly bland. I’m also not a big fan of using turkey on the Benny, since it tends to drown out the Canadian bacon.
It’s also worth noting that while the staff here is friendly and helpful, service during both of my visits was ridiculously slow, despite a near-empty house each time.
How healthful my meals at Bachi HLK have been may be up for debate. But the food is unquestionably much better than what you’ll find at a typical breakfast place. Moreover, the prices are fair, and the portions are huge. Hopefully that will at least help them earn a healthy customer base.
Al’s Menu Picks
- wild mushroom hash ($12.95)
- custom four-egg omelet ($10.95)
- Count Meet Bachi HLK ($10.95)
6825 W. Russell Rd., 702-220-4560. Open for breakfast and lunch daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Breakfast or lunch for two $20-$40.