Sunday, February 8, 2009

Takashi Chicago

So, we had our first date in about a year. I have to say, it was amazing. We went out for dinner downtown Chicago to a place called Takashi. How I found out about it was reading through Gourmet Magazine and Food and Wine magazine. In both of these magazines they had a section listing their top ten meals of the year. They were restaurants from all across the country. Naturally there would be at least one Chicago restaurant listed. The ironic thing was that of all of the places they could have picked, both of them picked Takashi. I knew I had to check it out. It's a Japanese fushion type menu. I have to say it was very inventive. I feel like people are really trying to do a lot of the same things with their food, however, this was very unique. The menu had everything from a spring roll style sushi roll with proscuitto to fried chicken.

Taskashi is snuggled in on Armitage and North Damen. It's a little house tucked in between a bunch of brick buildings. It only seats about 35 people. There is an upstairs dining room which we did not see. It was really nice because we were actually seated against the wall next to the kitchen. It sort of gave us a little more privacy because later on when it got crowded it was tight. We have no problem with dining like that, however most people would. We ened up sitting next to a really nice group of people. Two couples who we ended up talking with quite a bit towards the end of our meal. One of the guys ended up being a food writer on the North Shore which excited me of course.

We started out with a cold plate that included an octopus salad, gulf shrimp, and a raw fish thinly sliced topped off with some sea weed salad. Of all of the dishes we chose, I liked this one the least. I think it was the shrimp eyes staring at me on the plate. I was not a fan of the octopus at all. Jason liked it a lot. The shrimp was really good. It had some sort of sauce on top.

The second cold plate we tried was called the Winter Roll. I chose this after heading to the bathroom and spotting it in the kitchen. I have to say, it wasn't as good as it looked. It was good, but neither of these plates set me up for excitement. It was filled with shrimp, pickled cauliflower, proscuitto, something crunchy, lettuce drizzled with a hot mustard and finished with a won ton wrapper instead of the typical seaweed. It was good but not great.

The next dish is the one that just took things to another level. It was a seared scallop and soba gnocchi with a celery foam reduction. Wow! I don't like using exclamation points but what else can I do. This was amazing. I have to say that the first one we got was sandy. In my first bite alone I got sand. Jason had a bite in his as well. We ended up sending it back. The chef ended up coming out to explain to us how he prepares them and that they do not wash the scallops in order to keep the quality of the scallop in it's purest form. He wanted to make this dish for us again and assured us that he would personally look at the scallop carefully to make sure that it is completely free of sand. When it came to us there was an extra scallop and it was amazing. It was such an amazing dish. I can't emphasize that enough. The scallops were so buttery and tender. The soba gnocchi was equally as tender and so rich. The sauce was so smooth and flavorful. It really complemented the texture and flavors of the entire dish. This was an exciting dish. I wanted more.

So the next hot dish was the one we had really been looking forward to. It was a deconstructed steamed pork belly bun. When we went to New York last summer we went to a restaurant called Momofuku Noodle Bar by award winning chef David Chang. We had the best food of our life that fine day. It was our first time having pork belly. I will tell you this, it was something we will never ever forget. It was a beautiful beatiful thing. It has been something we bring up every now and then remebering fondly. So we were a little nervous trying these hoping we wouldn't be let down. They were amazing. They had the sweetest, most amazing flavor and were so tender. I would have ordered more if Jason would have wanted to. I am glad we didn't because we would have been so so full, but man, I will definately be going there again for those. The buns were so tender and light. And the greens were very well seasoned. The flavors all came together in a perfect marriage. I would have to say they were close to being as good as Momofuku. The pork belly at Momofuku was glazed in a hoisin and the Takashi pork belly was a soy ginger caramel

For our main dishes I had the fluke served over a bed of black mushroom risotto with a butternut squash and broccolini. The fish was so tender and perfectly cooked. The rissoto was so rich and falvorful. They went so beautifuly together. It was the perfect dish and I was so happy about it. I can't say one bad thing about it. Maybe that the portion was bigger than I had anticipated and it made me sad that I could not eat all of the risotto in fear of becoming to full.

Jason had a roasted duck with quince. He was so happy with it. The duck was so tender and perfectly cooked. He too was so sad to have to leave a few bites on his plate. We were very surprised at the size of the main dish. It was actually kind of refreshing to know that it was a healthy serving. It probably would have been the perfect size for us had we not already have four other dishes.

Overall this was the most amazing place ever. I am so happy we went there. When you don't get out much it's so hard to pick somewhere. You really want it to be worth your while, and this was for sure. The wild thing too was that I got my Food And Wine in the mail that next week and they had a feature on the chef. He really had impressive dishes. I hope we can go back again one day and try some new things, and have a few of the same things. I can't stop thinking about that pork bun and the scallops.

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