Francois requested Japanese food for Sunday night dinner, and we happily obliged. After debating a few restaurants, we ended up going to Takahachi on Duane St., a place that we’ve been to a few times previously. They also have a branch on the lower east side that is slightly cheaper but the atmosphere is much nicer at the Tribeca location.
We decided to order lots of different items and share everything. We started with some boiled edamame that was topped with an ample sprinkling of coarse salt.
Edamame topped with coarse salt
Next we had soba salad, which is buckwheat noodles topped with shiitake mushrooms, avocado, onion, daikon, and seaweed with sesame dressing. The ingredients sounded promising but the noodles and dressing were a bit gloppy in texture. The dressing also lacked enough seasoning, and the avocado in the salad was seriously unripe. So unripe that it was crunchy and bitter, and definitely unpalatable. I was very disappointed with this dish.
Soba salad with very unripe avocado slices
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the rock shrimp and broccoli tempura. They were too heavily breaded and completely drenched in the spicy mayo, which made them really soggy. The mayo also didn’t have enough of a spicy kick to it. Overall the dish just tasted heavy and greasy.
Shrimp and broccoli tempura with spicy mayo
That tatsuta age, which is deep fried pieces of chicken, was another disappointment. It’s supposed to be soy marinated chicken with ginger flavor, but I didn’t taste any of those flavors. Plus the chicken was over fried and way too dry.
Tatsuta age (fried chicken pieces)
Fortunately we had better luck with some of our other appetizers. The age gyoza, which are fried dumplings with Chilean sea bass and shrimp, were absolutely delicious. The thin skins on the gyoza were fried to a perfect crisp, and the filling was really tasty. I’ve never had Chilean sea bass in a dumpling before and it added a nice delicate fish flavor to the standard shrimp filling.
Fried gyoza filled with shrimp and chilean sea bass
The shumai, which are steamed shrimp dumplings, were also not like what I’m used to having. These were like shrimp balls rolled in shredded dumpling skin. They had tons of shrimp flavor and were deliciously meaty, kind of like eating a shrimp meatball.
The agedashi tofu is fried tofu served in a broth. While the tofu doesn’t stay crispy being soaked in the broth, it develops a nice skin and the insides stay really soft and tender. This dish is one that we always order at Japanese restaurants.
The best appetizers of all, however, involved some of Takahachi’s fresh raw fish. Yellowtail is my favorite sushi fish, so I requested an order of the hamachi tartare, which was chopped yellowtail and sea urchin marinated in tabasco. Unfortunately, they ran out of sea urchin. Darn! I love sea urchin (uni) and was looking forward to pairing it with the yellowtail. Nevertheless, the dish was beautifully presented and the yellowtail was mixed with tobiko. I don’t know if the tobiko was in place of the uni but it added a nice salty textural contrast to the chopped yellowtail.
My favorite appetizer of the night also featured yellowtail. The hamachi carpaccio with jalapeno sauce was absolutely delicious. The yellowtail was sliced super thin and basically melted in my mouth. The jalapeno wasn’t too spicy and complemented the fish perfectly. The dish just tasted so clean and fresh.
Hamachi carpaccio with jalapeno sauce
For our main course, we opted to share a bunch of different sushi rolls and pieces of sushi. The special rolls at Takahachi all have names that are related to movies for some reason. The “Anaconda” roll, which is featured under the Special Big Maki section, was a shrimp tempura roll topped with broiled eel.
Anaconda roll (with shrimp tempura and eel)
The “Year of the Dragon” roll included eel, cucumber, avocado, and flying fish roe. Fortunately the avocado used in this roll was riper than the avocado we had in our soba salad. The “Kiss of the Spider Woman” roll had deep fried soft shell crab, avocado, lettuce, smelt roe, radish, and mayo. We also had a rainbow roll, which was pretty standard but the freshness of the fish really stood out in this roll.
Rainbow roll in the back, Kiss of the Spider Woman on the left, and Year of the Dragon on the right
The problem with the Special Big Maki rolls was that they were humongous. We couldn’t pick them up with our chopsticks because they would fall apart. I ended up using my hands and could still barely hold a piece, let alone eat it properly. Sushi should be eaten in one bite, and even with my big mouth there was no way I could fit it in. One piece was the same diameter as the palm of my hand and almost as long as my fingers.
I can barely get my hand around a piece of the Kiss of the Spider Woman roll
We followed up the maki rolls with some individual pieces of sushi. First we had some tuna and fluke sushi…
Followed by some salmon and yellowtail…
And finally, some tamago, octopus, and mackeral sushi.
Whew it was a lot of food! But don’t worry, there were eight of us partaking in this meal so we weren’t huge pigs. And we still saved room for dessert, because we can never pass up dessert at Takahachi. They sell slices of green tea mille crepe cake that they get from Lady M Confections. These cakes are made out of over 20 thin crepes layered with green tea pastry cream. It’s absolutely awesome, not too sweet or too rich, and a must-have for any green tea lover. One day I will try to make one of these cakes, if I’m feeling adventurous. It’s seriously one of my most favorite desserts ever.
Green tea mille crepe cake
Overall the food at Takahachi is decent, but not spectacular. Most of the appetizers were hit or miss, without much consistency in between. And while their fish is pretty fresh, I think the flavors kind of get lost in the specialty rolls because there is just too much going on. You’re probably better off sticking with the plainer regular rolls and getting individual pieces of sushi or sashimi. The only thing that I can say for sure is that if you do go, get the green tea mille crepe!
Takahachi (multiple locations)
145 Duane St. between West Broadway and Church St.
New York, NY