Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dinner at Takashi

Twice a year, Andy and I open our wallets and head out to a nice dinner for our birthdays. After our experience at Takashi last Sunday, we're now trying to justify celebrating half-birthdays as well.

Without any further ado, our dinner:

We had a little bit of inside help on this one. It turns out, a coworker of mine is friends with one of Takashi's servers/bartenders, Jason. We scheduled our dinner to make sure we could take advantage of this perk and at 6:45 (15 minutes early or it wouldn't be Andy) we were seated in Jason's section. Our table was right by the big windows in front so we could watch the sky turn blue, pink, vanilla, navy and gray (it never really gets black near the city's lights).

We agreed to let Jason take us through our meal, and are SO glad we did. He ran every course by us before bringing it out, and we agreed with everything he suggested. We started with some cocktails that went perfectly with the warm, slightly humid weather we'd had that day.

I chose the ginger lime martini (Ketel One Vodka, lime juice and fresh ginger syrup, whose special ingredient is lemongrass. Thanks, Jason!) and Andy had the Mayfair cocktail (Hendrick's Gin, lime juice and cucumber. yummy and refreshing!).

These drinks would carry us through our first two courses, and after that, Jason split glasses of wine between us for each course. I loved that he offered so we could completely enjoy every course with our half glass of wine (still generous pours, which made me appreciate what their full glasses must be) without worrying about a giant alcohol bill or waking up for work the next day (5 courses = 5 glasses of wine after delicious, but strong cocktails... a little much for a Sunday night).

There will be more gushing about the wonderful service later, so on to the food!

Duck Confit with Pea Custard, fresh peas, microgreens (and a tart, delicious vinaigrette I can't remember)

The most surprising thing about this dish (besides the fact that pea-hater, Andy gobbled it up) was that it was warm. I don't know why I figured pea custard had to be cold, but maybe the vinaigrette had me thinking "salad". I loved this dish, though. It was on their small plates menu only available Sun-Thurs, so I think so the fact that it was so inexpensive ($5!!) seemed almost unfair. I actually felt like I needed to pay MORE for such a rich, crispy skinned piece of duck and light, pea custard topped with cool, crisp greens.

Sashimi Plate: Big Eye Tuna with Umami-Soy, Hokkaido Scallop with Pickled Plum, Blue Prwawn with Cucumber and Eggplant

This was the most generous and delicious sashimi platter I've ever had. The scallops melted in your mouth and the three big pieces of tuna in the umami soy on a daikon salad were amazingly fresh. The shrimp was covered in a perfect heat chili sauce, and I'm glad they cooked it a bit to satisfy us Westerners who can't stomach raw shrimp just yet.

And with the next course, my life was forever changed.

Sauteed Maine Scallops and Soba Gnocchi with Trumpet Royale (mushrooms) and Celery Root-Parmesan Foam

Jason paired this course with a Pinot Grigio I can't remember that had great acid to cut through the rich cream sauce Andy was seriously THISCLOSE to licking off the bottom of the bowl (and which 6 drinks later when the chef came out to talk to us-yeah, I chatted with a James Beard award winner-Andy mentioned he wished I'd brought a bigger purse so he could take the bowl home with us). The flavorful (believe it or not) celery root/parmesan foam obscures the entire picture of deliciousness, but after my first bite, I wondered why I would ever eat anything else. Our server also mentioned that this dish was rated by Gourmet magazine as one of the best 10 dishes in the United States. Andy and I heartily agree.

Our first entree was next, paired with a dry reisling.

Sauteed Maine Skate Wing-Risotto of Spring Peas, Wild Leeks, Asparagus, Broccolini
This was my first experience with Skate Wing, and now I'm kicking myself for never ordering it. The preparation was a perfect blend of textures, the skate just browned and crispy while still moist and perfectly flaky on a bed of creamy asparagus/pea risotto with roasted parsnips and fried squash on top. There wasn't a piece of this entree I didn't love intensely. I was so afraid that we'd peaked too early with the scallops, but this stood up well and continued our perfect meal.

Enough fish, gimme some meat! (and some red wine, please. thanks, again, Jason!)

Soy-Ginger Caramel Pork Belly-Pickled Daikon salad, Steamed Buns

Okay, yeah, I found this picture on the internets, but ours looked just like that, I promise! (Actually, I think our mustard dollop was between our pork and steamed buns, but I figured that didn't make much of a difference.) I think I was hypnotized by the smell of caramelized meat because my camera didn't even cross my mind when this was set in front of us. The buns are like the softest white bread, but denser while the meat completely changed my mind about pork belly. Even the salad was the perfect, vinegary acid for the rich meat. We used the mustard sparingly since it was pretty intense, but I know my dad would have eaten it by the spoonful.

Time for our second entree.

Chicken in Clay Pot-Amish Chicken, Shimeji Mushrooms, Eggplant, Haricot Vert
The quality of the photos decreased as the sun went down and we lost our natural light. Good thing the food didn't follow suit. The chicken was sizzling and steaming in a citrusy, yuzu broth. How the chicken skin stayed crispy and delicious? I didn't care since I was busy shoving it in my mouth, followed shortly by the seared green beans, mushrooms and eggplant. I wanted the miso mustard on the eggplant to be bottled, but apparently Takashi isn't into retail.

Before bringing us dessert menus, Jason brought us grapefruit and coconut sorbet as a palate cleanser along with some sparkling wine. It was super festive.

As much as I live for desserts, I really didn't feel like we needed one. THAT is how good this meal was. Still, we decided on the Yuzu pudding cake since it was citrusy and light because Andy had to have dessert on his birthday (and sorbet does NOT count!)

Yuzu Pudding Cake-with diced kiwi and pineapple (I think?) and coconut sorbet

Andy also got a special birthday dessert!

Five Spice Chocolate Mousse

There was a brush stroke of salted caramel on this plate that I swiped up with my finger it was so good. I love complicated, spiced chocolate, so this was amazingly good, even though I wasn't in the mood for a heavy dessert.

We were there for over 2 hours and from start to finish, it was an incredible experience. Our server, Jason, definitely made it spectacular, so if you find yourself in the position to go, I highly recommend asking for him.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to post a Yelp review and shed some tears of food nostalgia.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Looks fantastic! I'm glad you had a wonderful time, and thanks for sharing it with the rest of us. :)