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Taku on Smith St closes

  • k

didn't even last a year. wow.
so much for it's aurgued "destination" status.

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  1. This is horrible news. I'd only eaten at Taku twice but I had excellent meals both times, and I was looking forward to going again. The neighborhood really doesn't need another Italian place!

      1. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the food at Taku, but always left feeling like I overpaid. I think they really were out of the neighborhood's league for a vaguely japanese high end bistro/noodle shop. I think their ramen was truly delicious, but not twice as good as say, minca. Everything on the menu was trumped up.

        1. It is definitely more of a Manhattan type joint. I will miss those wings . . .

          1. SO disappointed. Taku was my favorite new discovery this year.

            1. What a bummer. I didn't think it was more expensive than other places in Smith St., like Cafe Lulac, which is fine as a neighborhood place but not much more. I just got back from Vancouver, with its surfeit of high-quality Asian food, and I really don't understand why NYers aren't willing to pay a bit more for better Asian food. I feel like Asian and Asian-influenced food is really laboring under the stereotype, even sometimes on this board, that it has to be cheap/hole-in-the-wall to be authentic or good. I had such amazing dim sum in Vancouver, the kind of food that you know took artistry to make, and I'm amazed that people aren't willing to pay more for this kind of dim sum in NY when they're willing to pay for very simple, albeit good, Italian food.

              11 Replies
              1. re: AppleSister

                We were sorta discussing this subject (high-end Asian food) on this thread, prompted by Reichl's comments about it in the Charlie Rose interview.

                As for Taku, it was a matter of not catering to the needs of the neighborhood, I think. Good Asian food is appreciated, but their price point was just above casual neighborhood joint but too low for true special occasion or a destination from other boroughs. I don't think it is a commentary on the desire for Asian food in general. (I liked it and will be sad to see them go.)

                1. re: Pupster

                  I dont get the " price point too low" to be a special occasion or destination restaurant - if the food is great and the ambience is right, people will come. Are you saying the food wasnt good enough/place not special enough to attract?

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Well, Jen, I guess I was thinking in comparison to let's say, The Grocery, which has a reputation outside of the neighborhood and people trekking in as a destination place. I don't know anyone who had heard of Taku outside of the neighborhood. And although I thought the food was good, yes, the service and decor were too casual to be special occasion. It's a shame really, because I thought they added a lot to the neighborhood. But how to explain why it was always half-empty, when places like Osaka were always full?

                    (FWIW, I am not a fan of Osaka and I liked Taku just fine, but generally all of my sushi/sashimi dollars go to Taro.)

                    1. re: Pupster

                      Keep in mind that they were charging $15 for a bowl of ramen, $14 for udon, $15 for pho and $12 for fried rice. It was on the high side, even if they were using Berkshire pork and good ingredients.

                    2. re: jen kalb

                      I don't think that the price for the ramen was too high, but the meal seemed to be kind of a tapas setting- I'd go and get 3 or 4 things (ferinstance, a couple of 10 dollar handrolls), and never get out for under 80 bucks- even though in my mind I was going out for a 40 dollar meal (with a few add ins it was well over 20 per bowl).

                    3. re: Pupster

                      Yeah, you're probably right about Taku, but I still don't understand how certain kinds of slightly high-end but mediocre food do well. A lot of the places people consider casual neighborhood joints, especially in my Fort Greene neighborhood, are still a bit too expensive for me given the quality of the food--I'd rather pay even a bit more and get better food when I go out to eat. I'm happy I ate such good food in Vancouver but so bitter that kind of Chinese food isn't available in NY that I'm extrapolating to everything that disappoints me :)

                      1. re: AppleSister

                        well thats what chowhound is about - identify the really good stuff and tagging the slackers so hounds are warned and dont waste their money, time and calories.

                        mediocre places do well because most eaters are uncritical about what they are putting in their mouths - restaurants dont need to be good to succeed. So out those crummy ones for the sake of the rest of us here, ok?

                        what kind of chinese food are you desiring that you arent finding here?

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          This is probably heading in a direction that deserves a new post, but for me, it's not so much that there are overhyped restaurants to be outted, but that people aren't willing to pay for other kinds of food. For example, French neighborhood bistros like Cafe Lulac and Loulou in Fort Greene can charge $15 for mussels and fries, and that's fine, it's good enough for neighborhood food. But $15 for high-quality ramen, many people think that's too expensive. I know Pupster doesn't mean that it's too expensive in general, or for the NY population in general, just for the general Cobble Hill neighborhood.

                          In Vancouver, and in the Bay Area when I lived there, I had delicious dim sum made with high-quality seafood and other good ingredients, including imaginative new dishes I've never tried before that were less fusion than Chinese in new directions. There are also more restaurants that specialize in certain foods, even if they're not upscale. For example, a shop that focuses on wonton soups or fresh, homemade tofu puddings. To a certain extent, even Vancouver and San Francisco proper don't have the best Chinese restaurants, since the best is found in the suburbs, where the wealthy Chinese people end up living. But there's still a higher standard which means the places people on Chowhound thought were average in Vancouver were still head and shoulders above the dim sum I've had in NY. I'm happy to eat cheap dim sum also, appreciating it for what it is, especially since I don't have the money to eat out often, but I'm disappointed that NY doesn't have the range of Chinese and other Asian foods that I've seen on the West Coast. Part of it must be the West Coast's easy access to high-quality, cheap produce, since even the upscale dim sum places came out to about $15 per person (in CAD). My Chinese-American friend who grew up on Long Island and just spent a year in Hong Kong (and is almost annoyingly picky about her food) seems to think that NYers, including NY Chinese people, aren't willing to spend more on Chinese food, which could be true, I don't know much about the demographics of Chinese immigration to NY vs. Vancouver. Anyway, I don't have any absolute theories on this, nor have I done a scientific study on Asian food in NY, but I do feel like although NY has a tremendous variety of Asian food, it's only starting to have more specialized places that have upscale food, or downscale take-out. Maybe it's that although NY has an incredibly wide range of ethnic groups, there are no major areas, like Monterey Park in Southern California or Richmond in British Columbia, completely dominated by one group to encourage diversification within one area of food, and each group just has to put up with restaurants that cater to the middle. It probably is just a matter of time, considering the increasing number of Shanghainese or Taiwanese or Szechuan, versus "Chinese" restaurants in NY.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            AppleSister, I sympathize with your frustration (though I think people often feel as you do when coming back from travelling about fill-in-your-ethnic-food-here). It would take a lot more time and space to explain the root reasons why NYC can support very expensive Japanese food but not other types of Asian food. Reichl's simple answer is that "we don't appreciate it [high quality Chinese food]" which is in the Charlie Rose interview I linked. I'm sure a lot can be said about demographics, income, competition, cost structure, etc. I hope that high class Chinese can thrive here. We'll see when the Alan Yau restaurant opens this fall.

                            As for the $15 for 'high quality' ramen, the answer is much easier: I can get better ramen for much less at various other establishments. The Minca ramen is quite delicious for half the price, and they use Berkshire pork and good imported noodles. All the places in midtown offer delicious versions for less than $10. Even Momofuku's overpriced ramen is $12, and frankly if they relied solely on their ramen they would go out of business too. (It's the exception to my rule of ordering what the place is named after. Almost everything else they offer is better than their ramen.) If Taku's ramen was sooo much better I wouldn't balk at paying $15, but it wasn't so why should I? I think a lot of people felt this way.

                            Don't use Taku as your example of people refusing to spend more on quality Asian food. Their problems were their own and not a commentary on larger cultural attitudes.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              PS. It can't be purely about price, since Mr. Chow and Philipe seem to thrive. Obviously, the focus there is not on food, but the fact that they charge exhorbitant prices don't seem to hinder their success.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                Hey AppleSister, on the subject of "high-end" Chinese food, I suggest you try the restaurant named "66" on Church St in Tribeca.
                                I lived in HK for 3 years, and this reminds me very much of the places there. Clean, modern interpetations, in a beautiful setting. Sure the $ is more than over in Chinatown, but I think it's quite reasonable for what you're getting. I'm also amazed at the lack of options in NYC for Chinese food, so this place has been a welcome change. enjoy!

                        2. If I may be a devil's advocate here...perhaps , just perhaps the restaurant closed not because it "went out of business" but other business or personal oppotunities arose?

                          Stranger things have happened in the crazy restaurant biz.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Larry Brooks

                            Read the posts in the other thread, linked above by dippedberry. A re-jiggering of concept rather than "other opportunities."

                            1. re: regis

                              Don't believe everything you read on the internet! (Or see in a store window)

                            2. Adam Shepard confirmed it on another food board - Taku is done, kind of. He hopes to see the concept through, but mentioned that it may live again in Manhattan, not Brooklyn, which is definitely a loss for our borough. As for the Smith Street space, it will be re-launched as a new restaurant (he wasn't clear on the specifics).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lambretta76

                                I'll miss it. Whatever gripes people want to make about bang for buck, it was great food.

                              2. I will miss Taku alot as well. I guess I have grown a little jaded about what restaurants are charging in general these days so the price point thing there didn't bother me so much. Taku was (for Smith Street at least) original and trying to do something interesting. And the food tasted good.

                                Just a thought, if (and I know this is an IF) the place couldn't stay open becuase folks in the nabe thought prices were too high, who is shopping at all the very expensive clothing boutiques along Smith, Court and Atlantic? I've alwyas wondered who is buying these clothes/shoes. Is it just that people would rather wear than eat thier diposable income?

                                On another note, had a terribly dissapointing meal at Grocery earlier in the summer.