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Takashi?

l
ljero Jan 4, 2008 03:19 PM

It opened the 30th. I am heading there tonight (and happen to love his food). Has anyone been yet to tell me their thoughts?

  1. brigidshine Jan 4, 2008 05:57 PM

    No...but please report back?

    1 Reply
    1. re: brigidshine
      v
      vrollings Jan 7, 2008 11:50 AM

      Ljero, I was also there Saturday night. Thought I'd provide some thoughts to everyone. My husband and I went with another foodie couple--all of us are big eaters. So we ended up ordering almost the entire menu and sharing. I have to say that the food was very good. I am "with child" so could not taste the raw fish appetizers that were ordered, but they looked magnificent. My dining companions really liked them and said the fish was extremely high quality. The sweetbread appetizer (on the hot app menu) was outstanding, as well as some others--the names of which are escaping me right now. The entrees were very good with the standouts (in my mind) being the steak with wasabi crust, the clay pot chicken, and the salmon wrapped in prosciutto. We also tried three desserts with the best one being the chocolate dessert with the crisped rice base. The other two were great as well, one was a chocolate mousse prep and the other was a mango kiwi combo with coconut gelato. The service was friendly and attentive. They do have a few kinks to work out, but think that will come with time. I would highly recommend Takashi. Great addition to the Chicago dining scene. By the way, those of you who went to Scylla know that this is a small space. I would highly recommend reservations if you want to go on a weekend. Enjoy!

    2. p
      Pugman Jan 14, 2008 02:02 PM

      Two friends and I went to Takashi on Jan.12 and it was outstanding. Hawaiian Kampachi sashimi topped with tiny pieces of Ankimo (monkfish liver) was sublime and the bluefin tuna tartare was pristine and not overwhelmed with other ingredients. House-made tofu was anoter nice treat. These 3 light cold appetizers paved the way for the much-richer hot apps, the highlight of which was pork belly served with some little steamed buns and garnishes (like a deconstructed cha-siu bow). Not to be missed! The veal sweetbreads with Swiss chard and chestnuts were great, too, although I was the only one at our table who would eat them! Because we wanted dessert, we only tried one large plate (clay pot chicken) and it was a great choice. Normally, I don't order chicken at higher-end restaurants but I'm glad that we did this time. Totally crave-worthy. Desserts were terrific, too, especially the sheep's milk pana cotta. It was topped with yuzu gelee, which was a perfect acidic counterpart to the richness of the pana cotta. Wine prices seemed quite reasonable. It was refreshing to see many by-the-glass selections for under $10 and decent bottles around $30. Way too many places seem to be charging $12-$15/glass for so-so wines. All in all, a very welcome addition to the dining scene.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Pugman
        d
        Docsknotinn Jan 15, 2008 06:41 AM

        Is this far from downtown? We will be staying at the Four Seasons if that helps. I think it's near the water tower.

        1. re: Docsknotinn
          nsxtasy Jan 15, 2008 10:38 AM

          The address is 1952 N. Damen Avenue, at Armitage. From the Four Seasons, that's 2.5 miles west and 1.5 miles north. Figure 10-15 minutes by cab.

          1. re: nsxtasy
            d
            Docsknotinn Jan 15, 2008 10:49 AM

            Thanks. That's close enough. Is the chef Takashi Yagihashi? I tried to find more info but not much luck. He was awesome when he ran Tribute here but I was under the impression he had moved on to Vegas. Does any one know how far in advance they take reservations? Dress code?

            1. re: Docsknotinn
              nsxtasy Jan 15, 2008 10:59 AM

              Yes, he's the chef. You can read the Tribune's Metromix review (which mentions his various stops since he left Ambria and Chicago) at http://chicago.metromix.com/restaurants/restaurant_review/first-look-takashi-restaurant/281998/content

              Takashi accepts reservations on opentable.com so you can easily check out availability on that website for any date/time you're interested in, at www.opentable.com/rest_profile.aspx?rid=19510

              The opentable listing notes attire as business casual (generally interpreted to mean jackets or ties NOT required, shirts with collars for gentlemen, no blue denim jeans). I haven't been there, so whether that corresponds with what people are actually wearing, perhaps one of the above posters can tell us.

              The restaurant will have a website but it's not yet up and running: www.takashichicago.com

              1. re: Docsknotinn
                p
                Pugman Jan 15, 2008 02:01 PM

                It is a very small restaurant and given chef Takashi's reputation (and warranted early buzz), you'll want to reserve well in advance. When I was there on Saturday, some people were dressed up and others were very casual. Even describing it as "business casual" might be an overstatement. Just be aware that this is really more of a neighborhood place (albeit a nice one), so don't expect all the creature comforts and super-solicitous service of a fine-dining establishment. People that loved Tribute in Michigan or Okada at the Wynn in Vegas may not feel the same way about the new venture...but that comparison wouldn't really be justified in the first place. The tables are very close together and the chairs are not particularly comfy and the noise level can get high. On this level, it reminds me of Blackbird. As does the quality of the food, which is high praise indeed. I can easily envision becoming a regular patron.

                1. re: Pugman
                  d
                  Docsknotinn Jan 16, 2008 06:15 AM

                  Thanks for the info. I have a 6pm reservation but we have tickets for Wicked at 8pm. Looking at the menu and location I'm thinking that will be plenty of time as long as we can easilly get a cab at Takashi. Any input on that would be greatly appreciated. They did have 5:30 tables available as well.
                  The night before we have a reservation at Topo but I'm seriously torn between this and Avenues. I've spoken to Graham a couple of times and he seems like a great guy.

                  1. re: Docsknotinn
                    nsxtasy Jan 16, 2008 08:05 AM

                    Takashi is at a major intersection in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhood, which has a lot of nightlife. Getting a cab in the vicinity quickly shouldn't be a problem, unless the weather is horrific. The ride downtown from there should take 10-20 minutes. You might want to check with the restaurant to see what they advise as a starting time in order to be finished by 7:30 (7:40 absolute latest). I generally assume two hours so as not to be rushed, which implies 5:30 might be a better idea.

                    Is this soon? Avenues is closed this month. The Lobby restaurant at the Pen is being remodeled, and is using the Avenues space during this period. So Avenues is not an option during January. Topo is very good, but an entirely different kind of place (Mexican, and casual fine dining, vs creative splurge fancy dining, much more expensive). If it's after January, Avenues is absolutely wonderful in every way; if you're looking for an Avenues kind of place during January, other restaurants in its genre include Alinea, Everest, Tru, and Charlie Trotter's. These are the best and most creative places in town, and priced accordingly (figure $200-300/person including moderate alcohol and tax/tip).

                    1. re: nsxtasy
                      d
                      Docsknotinn Jan 16, 2008 08:16 AM

                      Thanks again for the info. I already switched to 5:30 because I'm a little worried about what the weather might do and I'd like to be at the theater by 7:30. We're about 30 days out so Avenues should be open. Getting a little aprehensive about all the negative Topo reviews.

                      1. re: Docsknotinn
                        nsxtasy Jan 16, 2008 08:41 AM

                        Topolobampo (along with its Frontera Grill sister restaurant) is an odd place to characterize. Many people (including myself) continue to enjoy and like it, but a significant minority don't. I'm not sure why; differences of opinion tend to be due to either inconsistency on the part of the restaurant, or personal taste on the part of the diners, or both. I can only guess but I suspect that in this case it's more of a matter of personal taste. There are other places with creative Mexican food that produce consistently positive reviews (e.g. Flamingo's Seafood) so I don't know what to attribute it to; maybe people's expectations are different with a famous chef, but that's just the way things work out sometimes.

                        If you're looking for another recommendation for creative Mexican food close to downtown, Salpicon is very good. There are lots more places, including some in Pilsen (a neighborhood reasonably close to downtown), and others in outlying neighborhoods and suburbs. You can find a writeup about most of the better such places at www.chowhound.com/topics/463572

                        As for your Avenues possibility, it's wonderful, and highly recommended. In case you decide to switch reservations, Avenues, Topolobampo, and Salpicon all accept reservations on opentable.com

                        1. re: nsxtasy
                          d
                          Docsknotinn Jan 16, 2008 08:57 AM

                          NSXtasy Thanks again for the great info. I'm new here and I don't see a PM feature so I apologize is this is too far off track. I'm thrilled to have a reservation at Takashi.
                          I was more interested in trying a Rick Bayless establishment than eating Mexican per se. I'm capitulating on Switching to Avenues primarily because I've spoken to Graham a couple of times as well as the mixed Topo reviews. I'm also tossing about the idea of Tru and Everest. I wish we had great choices like this in Detroit. Even Tribute is a shadow of its old self now that Takashi has left. Perhaps we could trade coney Dogs for Hamburger, Hamburger, Cheeseburger! LOL
                          Thanks again,
                          Dave

                          1. re: Docsknotinn
                            nsxtasy Jan 16, 2008 09:07 AM

                            That's indeed what Graham is like.

                            In that group of our five top restaurants, don't rule out Alinea; many people consider it the "best of the best", although all five of them are superb and trying to claim one as better than another can be a fruitless exercise. Alinea (Grant Achatz) was named as best restaurant in the country by Gourmet magazine. If any of these is "number two", that's probably Avenues. Charlie Trotter's was the pace-setter of this group for many years and continues to be as good as ever. Everest (Jean Joho) is also fine in every way, and two things that distinguish it from the others are its view looking out over the city from the 40th Floor of the Midwest Stock Exchange Building, and it can be a bit less expensive than the others. Tru continues to maintain its excellence even as Rick Tramonto takes on other projects in addition to Tru. You really can't go wrong with any of them.

                            And if you're interested in partaking of Rick Bayless's cuisine, by all means go to Topolobampo. Chef Bayless is usually in the house.

                            1. re: nsxtasy
                              d
                              Docsknotinn Jan 18, 2008 11:44 AM

                              I got in touch with GEB yesterday and when Avenues opens he is going to have some new items. Decided to skip Topo and go there. It's close to where we are staying and it will be fun to meet Graham. I'm looking forward to Takashi just as much. If the weather gets bad saturday before the theater we''ll just re-visit our plans and opt for pizza. Now where's the best coffee near the FS??? :)
                              Thanks again for the help. Much appreciated!

        2. b
          buttermonkey Jan 17, 2008 10:50 AM

          Hell yea, Takashi is back in the Midwest. I was so sad to see him go to Vegas (which did not embrace him).

          1. nsxtasy May 7, 2008 10:36 AM

            I ate at Takashi last night. I thought it was good, not great. In fact, that's how I would describe every dish we had. I could tell you what we had - there were four of us, each ordering four courses: a cold starter, hot starter, main, and dessert (as well as a bottle of wine), and we shared tastes of everything - but I would be saying the exact same thing about every dish. Nothing was bad, everything was good, but there wasn't a single dish that was "to die for", nothing that I'm yearning for when looking back on the meal. We normally order three courses (one starter, not two) but I had read the Tribune's review ( http://chicago.metromix.com/home/rest... ) which mentions that the portions are somewhat small and you may want to consider ordering a few more courses than at other places, so we did. Even with the extra course, our bill ($84/pp including wine/tax/tip) was slightly lower than we normally encounter at similar places, so we were fine with that. Also note that the menu currently on their website is their winter menu, and with the change in seasons they are no longer serving some of the heartier dishes shown there (e.g. sweetbreads, short ribs). Our main server was good, friendly and knowledgeable; it was a bit more hit-or-miss among the rest of the waitstaff (runners arriving with dishes not knowing who gets what, sporadic/skimpy re-supply of the tiny pieces of bread, etc). Overall, we had a pleasant dinner and it was a nice experience, but without the "wow" we've found at places like one sixtyblue, North Pond, and Aigre Doux.

            2 Replies
            1. re: nsxtasy
              f
              forzagto May 7, 2008 01:01 PM

              Thanks for review. Do you have any more details on the menu items that you had? Also, what were some of the dishes that were not on their winter menu but on the new one?

              1. re: forzagto
                nsxtasy May 7, 2008 03:23 PM

                Sure! Here are the dishes we had, most of which are not on their website menu. Also it turns out one of us had a third "small plate" instead of a "large plate". They served us four dishes at a time (as you would want, of course), even though the numbers by category below are uneven.

                Cold small plates:
                Sashimi of Japanese sea bream
                Spring rolls with seafood filling
                Spicy shrimp (2)
                Seared tuna with sliced avocado

                Hot small plates:
                Soy-ginger caramel pork belly, Chinese mustard, steamed buns
                Sauteed Maine scallops and Soba gnocchi with foam (2)
                Quail

                Large plates:
                Roasted Indiana duck breast and duck leg confit, cumquat marmalade, ginger-onion glaze
                Halibut wrapped in tofu with bok choy (2)

                Desserts:
                Sheep's milk yogurt panna cotta with yuzu gelee
                Pear financiers with blue cheese, walnuts, sorbet
                Tropical fruit brunoise

                As noted above, everything was good, albeit none enough to induce that "wow!" feeling. If I had to recommend one dish from the above, the one thing I liked enough that I would order it in a return visit is the panna cotta.

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