So, I've finally deduced that it takes me about six months to actually try a new restaurant. Well-intentioned or not, I never seem to get to all the places on my list, even when they're walking distance from my apartment. And in NYC, nobody cares about a restaurant after six months.
I recall good things being said about Taku when it opened this summer. I don't know if they've kept things up at the same caliber, but I was unexpectedly under whelmed. James flat out didn't like food, which surprised me since he's never extremely passionate about anything, let alone cuisine.
My sashimi trio included…um, I can't even say for sure because it wasn't explained well and I'm not a raw fish whiz, I think uni and two different white fleshed fish varieties, along with a couple different seaweed salad tufts. It was fresh and just toothsome enough to remind me that I should eat Japanese food more often.
James ordered the wings, which I was interested in too. The sambal coating and cucumber cream dip sounded like a fun riff on Buffalo wings. They were presented prettily on a long ceramic plate and wrapped with a thin leaf. Unfortunately, the meat wasn't fully cooked, once you bit off the saucy exterior, the flesh was raw. It's a good thing neither of us are panicky about avian flu, or more realistically salmonella. I guess we should've said something, but it didn't feel worth the bother. There was a weird dispiriting vibe in the room, despite the surface soothing tones and music. Nothing overt, but the service managed to feel spacey and clunky, like I didn't want to do anything to further interactions or conversations. So, we kept mum on the sashimi wings.
I enjoyed my Taku ramen, which was ideal for a pork fanatic like myself. The tonkatsu broth was laden with thin slices of Berkshire pork and a nice substantial piece of rasher style bacon. The weird thing is that I expected more flavor, the broth was oddly flat and even the tiniest bit bitter. I think my taste buds could be tainted by my almost daily bowl of cheap Yagura chicken udon. I'm sure the stuff is teeming with salt and msg, but it's insanely savory and addictive. Maybe it's dashi derived vs. pork bone broth? No expert in Japanese soups, I'd always imagined pork broth to be the stronger flavored of the two.
James envied my ramen and loathed his scallops so much that he actually went home and ate a bowl of instant tom yam noodles. I thought his entre looked fine, though I became scared to taste it when he began insisting it was laced with mayonnaise. I wouldn't be surprised, Japanese are a tad mayo crazy, but the emulsified condiment wasn't listed as an ingredient. I only recall apple puree (as a bed for the seared sesame crusted scallops), celery root (a few scattered slices) and holy basil (in the form of lightly drizzled oil) as components. The celery root did appear to be coated in a white creamy sauce. I don't think the quality was poor, it just wasn't what he had had in mind.
Despite being offered a new job mere hours before this meal, we couldn't agree on whether this was a celebratory dinner or not. I said no at the end because it didn't go well and I wasn't feeling elated like I should've been. James said yes, since it ended up being more than we'd (ok, he'd) normally spend on food for a casual weeknight ($81). I don't care what he says, it didn't count–I'm getting another dinner.
Taku * 116 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY