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Oct 4, 2007 10:15 PM

Taneko - Scottsdale

Just finished reading this article about changes they are apparently making:

We tried this back in the spring. We haven't felt the need to revisit. We actually thought the food wasn't bad but there were two things that stood out to us:

It was LOUD. Very loud. I hate LOUD places, especially if I'm spending more than a couple bucks on dinner. I think I'm just getting old and grumpy but regardless the noise level was waayyy beyond our comfort level. Along with this, the tables were on top of each other. So you have to scream to be heard and you have someone sitting 4 inches from you that you've never met. If I want a communal table I'll seek one out on my own when I'm in the mood...hopefully somewhere quieter.

Also we found that while the food was pretty good it was expensive. I remember we didn't order any alchohol and our bill was in the $90-$100 range. For that kind of money it just wasn't that didn't feel like a special occasion restaurant but the bill did(again we had no alcohol, just two iced teas).

We're probably not their target market...though I'm not clear reading this who is...sounds like they're planning to dumb down their original concept. It'll probably work, but based on things mentioned here we'll be even less likely to revisit.

But then again, we both know how to use chopsticks. ;)

Don't see much chatter here about it, so am thinking others who have tried it have also been underwhelmed?

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  1. I found it underwhelming, overpriced and much too "over designed" for the concept they were trying to replicate - Japanese pub fare. It's a bit like Disney or maybe more like a Vegas casino trying to act as though they replicate France, Italy, etc so there's no need to check out the original places. Stay here and blow your money.

    I'm not an expert but was fortunate to have lived for a number of years in LA with Japanese roomates and their extended friends. There are some great pockets of Japanese communities where I spent many a night in certain places being the only non-expat patron, ordering loads of beer/food/sake and singing karaoke to songs I've never heard. And there are great eateries where you can eat/drink very well and come home with change in the pocket.

    There are areas of Japanese cuisine that are rightfully higher priced... Kobe beef, the best, fresh seafood flown halfway across the world. But pub food is pub food anywhere on the planet... decent, cheap, something you can afford to eat every night after work if you so desired. That's one of the best things about Asian cultures... they cater to the fine diner, but also to the person who wants a light meal or snack. A cheap beer and a $2 kabob of chicken skin might be all that one desires. That's cool. It seems absurd you paid close to $100 for a meal with iced tea.

    The other thing that bugs me about Taneko is the implied ignorance of the public and their business tactics of reaching for that ho hum denominater. I will happily grant that there's a large percentage of people who are unfamiliar with a lot of ethnic foods, or who would be fine with an AppleChileOutback excursion.

    At the same time, however, we've got more sushi places these days than just about any other ethnic choice. Add them up. Phoenix is a sushi hotspot. They might not all be top rated, but we've got volume. And if you think about it, there's hardly anything more daring than munching raw food, particularly raw seafood, as we kick back in the desert. Even my non eating friends, who are malnourished and have zero interest in dining, will perk up if there's a sushi outing.

    My point is that Taneko seemed a cool idea but turned out to be an overpriced testing ground for converting higher end diners with the highest possible chck totals. They might have done better with a dirt cheap menu to get people familiar with and craving for decent, wallet friendly fare.

    1. I have simply been turned off by the price point. If they are trying to replicate the izakaya experience, they need to keep the prices in check.

      The first izakaya restaurant I went to in my life was Honda-Ya in Tustin about 2 years ago which blew me away. J. and I had the following: Charcoaled Quail Eggs, Soft Shell Crab, Shrimp Shumai, Beef Soba, Garlic Green Beans, Pickled Seaweed, Japanese Pumpkin, Pork Katsu, and Green Tea Ice Cream. That and two beverages ran us a meager $42 and change.

      Regarding the article, I am trying to figure out what is really being said with "Critics have praised the quality of the food..." If they are strictly talking about the quality and not the execution, they may have a point. However, the "critics" have been all over the place. New Times gave it a thumbs up, but the AZ Republic all but yawned. If I recall correctly, Phoenix Magazine gave it a sort of "valiant effort" nod.

      I wish them great success and I might even try them, but I won't be happy paying those prices for "pub food."

      3 Replies
      1. re: Seth Chadwick

        That was exactly where I was when I tried them out, Seth. The food can be good... very good indeed. Their ribs are terrific. But the price point goes outside of "special occasion" and straight into "Are you NUTS?" After I went there, my dining companion and I had realized that we probably would have enjoyed TGI Friday's more and spent less money. So, we hopped in the car and made a beeline to TGI, spent a hell of a lot less money than we did at Taneko, and had a just plain great time, uninspired food be damned.

        1. re: Seth Chadwick

          I don't know about the critics, but I thought their gristly and tasteless tuna was the worst I'd eaten in a long time. It was amazing how bad the tuna tartare was between the cheap tuna and completely unripe hard avocado.

          Taneko Tavern
          6166 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 601, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

          1. re: IamJacksBrain

            Went to Taneko when it first opened and I was underwhelmed. My salmon was ridiculously expensive, bland, and came with nothing else. My friend's kobe was, he said, terrible and tough. We were a group of four and no one was impressed. Def. won't be going back not matter what they change...

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          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. From Nation's Restaurant News:
              UPDATE: P.F. Chang’s looks to sell Taneko

              SCOTTSDALE , Ariz. (Jan. 10) P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. said Thursday that it is negotiating the sale of a controlling stake in Taneko Japanese Tavern to Dallas restaurateur Jack Baum, who indicated that he intends to grow the izakaya-inspired concept.

              Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but P.F. Chang’s said it would retain a minority interest in the business. Baum’s company, Food, Friends & Co., operates 13 restaurants in nine states, including the brands Wapango, Mexico Cantina y Veracruz Cooking and Cozymel's Mexican Grill.

              Baum also plans to open an American cuisine restaurant in Dallas called the Woodlands on Forest on Jan. 21.

              P.F. Chang’s opened Taneko in 2006 in Scottsdale to test an entry into Japanese casual dining. The concept is patterned after the izakayas, or neighborhood taverns, of Japan. The menu features natural, organic and seasonal ingredients and highlights various cooking styles of Japan.

              “We think it has a lot of potential,” Baum said. “We are inheriting a team that I think is top-notch.”

              Taneko’s founding chef Paul Muller and operating partner Mark Evensvold will remain with the concept, Baum said.

              “They are retaining ownership in the concept and know the potential and what changes are needed,” Baum said. “There’s a lot of trust between our company and P.F. Chang’s, and that is shown in the fact that they are maintaining a minority stake in the business.

              “We’re going to move Taneko to where the marketplace has been asking,” he continued. “I wouldn’t have done this if I thought Taneko’s potential is just one location.”

              Baum indicated that Taneko’s high food costs may have posed obstacles for the fledgling concept.

              “They had not held anything back,” he said. “Food costs in a concept like this or any Japanese concept tend to be high. The quality of the product is high. One of the challenges we have is to balance the food costs to where we can bring the prices down for the guest.”

              Baum said his new Woodlands on Forest, in an expanded former Wendy’s location in North Dallas, was inspired by Fallingwater, the architectural landmark in Pennsylvania that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

              “The menu is very creative, from soups to tuna tartare to calamari to mussels,” he said. “We will have a bevy of salads and entree salads. Sandwiches at lunch will range from a grilled chicken to Kobe beef sliders to a bison burger to a prime-rib sandwich.”

              Entrees will include mahogany chicken, which features a half a bird with a maple glaze, and a vegetarian goat cheese and vegetable tart.

              “It’s food that people want to eat,” he said, “and it’s very approachable. It’s not fringe food.”

              Baum said he feels a rebellion against chains is developing.

              “Everything we are doing new going forward is really about the neighborhood,” he said. “I really want us to interact and relate to customers within a five-mile radius of [Woodlands] and become a friendly location for the people who live there.”