Tuesday's opening of the Japanese restaurant Basan marks the first foray into Durham for Eschelon Experiences, the Raleigh restaurant group whose eclectic holdings include The Oxford, Zinda, Mura, Cameron Bar and Grill, and the recently opened Faire. Joining Ed Mitchell’s Que and OnlyBurger in the Diamond View III Building between the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the Durham Performing Arts Center (and just across the street from the American Tobacco campus), Basan lives up to Eschelon’s reputation for for high-profile locations.
Fans of the group’s trademark eye-catching decors won’t be disappointed, either, with the new restaurant’s sleek dining room, whose highlights include an abundance of natural woodwork and a bar with a sweeping view of the ball park.
That bar is stocked with, in addition to the usual suspects, an extensive sake selection for pairing with a menu that is being billed as “drawing inspiration from the West Coast style of Japanese cuisine.” On the plate, that translates to a mix of traditional and contemporary fare (think miso black cod, shrimp and mushroom ajillo, and barbecued beef short ribs), as well as an assortment of inventive specialty sushi rolls. Charged with creating those rolls is 10-year veteran sushi chef Toshio Sakamaki, who comes to Basan from sister restaurant Mura.
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