Sunday, April 10, 2011


If you walk up to 1952 N. Damen Ave., you will come upon a nice looking Chicago bungalow. While it was originally a home, it has been a restaurant for years, a small restaurant, but a restaurant just the same. Previous tenants have included Glory, a New England comfort food restaurant, and Scylla, Stephanie Izard's seafood first restaurant. It is now home to Takashi, Takashi Yagahashi's eponymous restaurant. As you may imagine, and as I said previously, the space is small. There are seats for 20 on the main floor and probably seats for another 20 on the 2nd floor. As I was by myself, I was seated at a two top in the corner which was fine with me because I was seated across from the bar and next to the kitchen. While there was a half-wall between the kitchen and the dining area, there was a frosted window above the half-wall so I couldn't really watch what was going on in the kitchen. I was able however, to see the dishes as they were leaving the kitchen which gave me a preview of what I might get. As I was by myself, I decided to treat myself to the six course chef's menu and a cocktail. While I didn't take a picture of the cocktail, it was a pomegranate vodka concoction that actually reminded me a lot of the drink I had at Boka. It was very good as was the rest of the meal. So what did I have? The meal went like this: First was the Amuse Bouche. It was a whipped tofu cube with cucumbers, tangerine, micro-greens, and a soy sauce. I am generally not a fan of tofu because I find it fairly tasteless and the texture is generally like sour milk but it does pick up the flavor of whatever it's served with and the soy sauce certainly helped. The fact that it was whipped and served cubed made it kind of interesting as well. While I probably wouldn't order this on it's own, it wasn't bad.

Next came the carpaccio of big eye tuna pickled gobo, napa cabbage, umami soy, sesame oil. It isn't really obvious but all of the major elements were separated so it was easy to taste the individual elements separately or together. The carpaccio was in the center, the pickled gobo (burdock root) was at the top, and the gobo was at the bottom. It was a very good dish (if you like raw fish which I do).

The next "appetizer" was the ceviche. It contained shrimp, squid, hokkaido scallops & octopus, cherry tomato, cucumber, fennel, red onion, and a yuzu-ceviche sauce. Ceviche is essentially a seafood dish that is "cooked" with acid which is usually lemon juice based. The acid tenderizes the meat so while the fish has not been cooked with heat, it is still pretty tender.

The next dish was actually my favorite dish and was probably one of the best dishes I have had in quite a while. It was a dish that consisted of sauteed Maine scallops served over a Soba Gnocchi (Soba is a pasta made from buckwheat flour) with trumpet royale mushrooms, a parmesan sauce, and a celery root parmesan foam. In my opinion, the foam didn't do much to add to the look of the dish but it also didn't take away from the taste.

The first entree I actually forgot to take a picture of. It looked good as tasted very good. It was actually a spin on a BL without the T sandwich. It was a soy-ginger caramel pork belly with a pickled daikon salad, steamed buns, and horseradish mustard. It was also meant to be built to the users taste. The steamed buns were really good as was the pork belly but you really had to be careful with the horseradish mustard because it was really strong.

If I hadn't mentioned that the scallop dish was my favorite, several people would guess that this would have been my favorite, the duck dish. I love duck and will almost always order it if I see it on the menu. This was a roasted indiana duck breast and confit of leg with a red wine poached pear and ginger-orange glaze. I am not a huge fan of pears. In fact I really do not like pears but as I said with the popcorn, I am not afraid of trying a dish containing them. This pear was a little gritty but it didn't taste too bad and combined with the duck, it was pretty good. As far as the duck was concerned, I liked the confit better than I liked the roasted breast.

Finally, we came to the dessert. It was very inventive and tasted as good as they looked. It was called The Egg and it contained a milk chocolate créme brulée (in the shell and under the foam), maple syrup, maldon sea-salt, caramel custard foam, and a blood orange macaroon.

At the end of dinner I was asked if I wanted to contribute to the Japanese earthquake relief. As Takashi is Japanese and his family lives there, I understood his fundraising and gladly contributed. My dinner here was very satisfying. I enjoyed my meal and the service was very good and I would gladly come back.

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