Let’s start with what Blackship, a Japanese/Italian place in the heart of West Hollywood, gets right. In a time when every restaurant in LA serves small plates of California sensibility bullsh*t, Blackship’s food is genuinely different. It successfully blends two cuisines in a way that feels natural, and not like some contrived gimmick intended to get random foot traffic into seats.
Not every dish works, and frankly, the majority of them could use another lap around the spice rack. But there’s something special about combining ramen, carbonara, kurobuta chashu, and parmesan in one bowl. The best things on the menu are similarly interesting - like the hamachi bolognese and shungiku gnocchi, two tremendous pastas that would be at the top of their class on most menus in town. Blackship’s pastas in particular are proof that this restaurant has potential. It’s just too bad they can’t get out of their own way to achieve it.
It doesn’t matter how interesting your food is if the service is so objectively dysfunctional that even the simple act of eating pasta and drinking wine feels chaotic. There’s no reason why at a restaurant as visibly overstaffed as Blackship (where the servers gather by the kitchen waving ticket orders like it’s the New York Stock Exchange), you can’t get a waiter to come to your table even if you have an HBO series regular contract in your hand. The lulls in service eventually take a toll on your evening.
One night, after enduring several long lulls, we were waiting for our final course when the only bathroom in the restaurant locked from the inside. The people in line, including us, were asked to use Shake Shack’s facilities next door while the bartender tried to jimmy it open with a credit card. After we returned and the food still wasn’t there, we canceled our order, got the bill, and left. Maybe we should have just stayed at Shake Shack.
That experience wasn’t a series of random accidents and mistakes - those things happen at restaurants. The service at Blackship is so systematically sloppy that, as a diner, you ultimately feel undervalued. And that’s something a few interesting bowls of pasta can’t justify. Until Blackship pulls it together, we’ll keep eating made-up California sensibility bullsh*t.
Topped with shungiku greens, brussels sprouts, brown butter dashi, and pecorino, this bowl of pasta is easily our favorite dish at Blackship. The soft pillowy gnocchi combined with the richness of the brown butter would taste even better if you were having a good time here.
Thick casarecce noodles, fresh hamachi yellowtail, fragrant shiso leaves, and a heavy portion of grana padano cheese - this is a substantial and unique bowl of pasta that deserves to be served at a different restaurant.
The tuna in this tartare-like dish is very good, but unfortunately, the heat from the pickled wasabi gets completely lost, so there’s not enough contrast.
If there’s one dish that’s going catch your eye at Blackship, it’s this one. Unfortunately, it misses the mark. The noodles are fine, but the broth is flat and doesn’t have much taste. Skip it.
Outside of the gnocchi and bolognese, this is the other dish you should focus on at Blackship. These are perfectly deep-fried rice balls that come with a tiny bottle of umami soy sauce. That said, $5 for just one is a bit ridiculous.