Chicago >Food & Dining > Takashi Restaurant
1952 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6064741.917434 -87.677921
Neighborhoods: North Side, Bucktown
This is one of my favorite "special" restaurants. It's located within what looks like an old house, produces some of the best seafood this side of the Atlantic Ocean, and it's just a sheer treat to eat Chef Takashi's food.
Gorgeous Japanese dinners on Sunday - it's a splurge, but a meal you'll remember.
Celebrity chef Takashi Yagahashi serves up upscale Japanese food at this hip, tiny Wicker Park restaurant.
I still think the Sunday noodles here might even outshine Slurping Turtle. So labored over - and you can tell. Rich, sweet broth, pork belly, mouthfuls of noodles. Can't go wrong. But make reservations for right when the doors open if you plan to come.
Decent. Good service. LOUD. – Beware of restaurants who “are” the chef. Nobu. Vong. Takashi. No apostrophe “s.” It’s not their restaurant but rather their embodiment. Rarely do these places live up to the grandeur of the self-opinion. This was no exception but at least it filled our bellies – with a healthy laugh-track.
Takashi haunts a small, 2-story home on the fringe of Whicker Spark, or Whucktown, or whatever the damn neighborhood is called. It’s all hipsterville to me. Into the narrow walls, the management has crammed a fair number of tables and still left room for jumbo-sized Chicagoans. Pretty cool. However, this cluster has created an echo chamber that seems unfit for the type of dining to which Takashi aspires. Think Hub 51’s noise condensed into 1000 square feet.
First the food. For my favorite price of US$69, a diner can enjoy a five-course meal and 1 dessert. Tonight it was: Carpaccio of Big Eye Tuna – EXCELLENT; Ceviche of Shrimp, Squid, Scallops and Octopus – OK; Skate Wing – OK; Pork Belly – Great; Duck over Foie Gras – Good. Wine pairings were an additional $36 and were very healthy pours. Borrowing a play from the book of Tru, the server noticed that the opening glass of champagne was drunk too quickly and brought another “while we wait.” That is service that pays dividends. Overall, the wine pairings average $6/glass. That’s a deal! The food – eh. I really really expected something more. Only a single “excellent” and a “great” seems low for a meal that cost $105 per head. Compare that to iNG – true excellence in every course for a relative pittance. And when I asked for a transcript of the courses, the menu came back autographed. Nice touch Chefs. Thanks for not sending out a headshot as well because then I would have cracked completely up. But it’s not that the evening was without amusement.
Remember the echo chamber? There was a table in the northeast corner of the restaurant which through accident of placement would have made the conversational volume deafening for a normal-sounding person. And the woman who was seated there this evening was anything but. The accident of placement, the hard surfaces, the pitched roof and whatever planetary mumbo-jumbo you believe in all conspired that evening. And when adding to the formula a woman who, common to persons of her size, adopts the philosophy of “life’s a stage,” you quickly get a critical mass in both amplitude and frequency. She was so loud it was funny – but not too funny. She would make what she believed to be a particularly amusing point, begin a low rumble of a cackle which would develop into a high-pitched roar and be punctuated with a triple-foot-stomp. It went: BEAT…BEAT…“JOKE”…Cackle->ROAR…STOMP…STOMP……STOMP. Over and over again. I’m sorry but nothing can be that funny that often. Jay Leno doesn’t have as many laughs in as little time and he’s the master of BEAT…BEAT…JOKE. There was not a single other table that wasn’t following her conversation. They had to. None other was possible. When the party left the other patrons broke out into an ovation to the great embarrassment of the wait staff. Especially considering that the party was a regular. Ouch. This means lot of other people get the treatment. Maybe next time it’ll be you.
Serene decor and stylish cuisine come together at this sophisticated Bucktown restaurant situation on the quieter side of Damen. – In Short
Guests may mistaken this tiny restaurant for a residence--it certainly feels like one with its cottage-like dining room decorated with fresh flowers and a muted palette of white and grey. Upstairs, the mood is cozier, a space accented with fabric ceiling panels and bamboo bouquets. Bucktown locals congregate for seasonal, artfully showcased fare of small and large plates bursting with Asian flavors. For sweet: a local Asian pear salad merges candied almonds, gorgonzola, a quail egg with brioche and a creamy chive vinaigrette. For sour: A hot and sour soup with Shitake and Shimeji mushrooms.
Get the fish...any of the fish! And, take the waiter's wine recommendation! – I was here with a friend a week ago and we really liked it. We were seated right at our reservation time when we entered the door even though the place was packed and went upstairs. The tables weren't nearly as close together as I expected or as loud. I had read some reviews before going and was a bit worried but remembered the space from Scylla's so I was willing to risk it. I'm glad I did! The barramundi was fabulous and the halibut my friend ordered was really good, too. I asked the waiter to make a recommendation between a choice of two wines I narrowed the list to and he was spot on. The only "eh" factor was the dessert. We ate most of it but probably because we were having such a good time and didn't want to leave rather than the dessert being all that great. I can't even remember what they called it but it was essentially a rice crispy treat with jam and ice cream with some other little things thrown in. It was pretty but not the best dessert I'd ever had. The dessert list was pretty extensive so perhaps we ordered one of their weaker items.
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