Thursday, June 23, 2011

Takashi or Noodle Oggling

The Slow and Savory Review

Variety is the spice of life is how the old saying goes, and it is one of the tenants Bunny and Brandy live their lives by.  Brunch is still by far their favorite meal, but even Our Ladies occasionally tire of the same old Eggs Benedict and French Toast, no matter how dressed up with caramelized pears or crab cakes they come.  So after seeing an article proclaiming to have the "Cure for the Average Brunch" Our Ladies suited up in their Sunday finest and headed out to Bucktown to sample the Noodle Lunch at Takashi.

Tastefully decorated in modern greys and pops of orange, Takashi is a very welcoming space with a lovely small patio out front and a cozy upstairs dining room.  Reservations were encouraged, but from what Bunny and Brandy observed (they were there at the first ring of the lunch bell at 11:30) it took just under an hour before the restaurant was filled with buzzing patrons.

The menu was definitely quite a change from their usual choices; a cornucopia of smaller tasting plates were joined by a myriad of noodle bowls, listed by the different types of noodles such as ramen, udon, and soba.  Their helpful server suggested they order a few of the smaller plates, and then share a noodle bowl, which was more than enough to feed two (he obviously was not aware of Brandy's past as a noodle eating champion). 

Our Ladies did start with a few of the smaller dishes; Duck Fat Fried Chicken, Pork Gyoza, and Eggplant Salad.  The chicken was amazingly moist and flavorful, rich from the duck fat with just a hint of spice, and an outer crust that crunched audibly when bitten into. 
The Eggplant salad was like a tour for the taste buds; sweet marinated eggplant, salty broth and mushrooms, slightly bitter Chinese broccoli, crunchy fried onions, and again just a little bit of heat. 
The Gyoza were very light, with a crispness from being pan fried.  The filling was soft and well balanced.

Next came the noodle bowls.  Bunny ordered the Miso Ramen, which came with assorted veggies and braised pork.  She seemed to think the broth was a bit salty, which Brandy scoffed at.  "Dear, it's miso, it's supposed to be salty," Brandy scolded her. Bunny wrinkled her nose and rolled her eyes.  Bunny reported the noodles were lovely, the broth very flavorful, and the pork very tender, though maybe a little on the fatty side.  Brandy, ever the know-it-all, suspected Bunny was mistaking the silky texture of high quality meat for fattiness.

Brandy went for the Rice Noodles, with slices of Rib Eye, bean sprouts, and baby bok choy.  At the behest of the waiter, Brandy also ordered a side of Tempura to dip into the broth.  The beef was mouth meltingly tender and the sprouts fresh and crisp.  The broth, she mentioned, had a slight liquorishy taste to it which made it unusual, and was greatly enhanced by the Japaneses spice mixture that was provided to the table.  The noodles were very tender and easily slipped from her chop sticks as she tried to raise them to her mouth.  Eventually the waiter took pity on Brandy and brought her a fork.  The tempura was wonderfully light and crispy, and did indeed taste delightful when dipped into the broth of her noodle bowl.  Brandy's only complaint was that she accidentally bit into a tempuraed jalapeno, thinking it to be fried okra.  After a minute of crying and coughing (and giggling from Bunny) all was well.

Since no decision could be made between the three delectable sounding desserts, Our Ladies decided to go for them all.  First came the Coconut Panacotta, which came served in a pool of passion fruit syrup.  Though the panacotta was nice and creamy, it didn't taste much of coconut, and the syrup was so strong and tangy that it overpowered everything else.
Next came the Green Tea Shortbread, which sandwiched a white chocolate mousse and came served with mango sorbet.  While the cookies had a nice texture, they didn't actually taste much of green tea, but the mango sorbet was flavorful enough to make up for it. 
Lastly, the Salted Caramel Cheesecake with shaved Mandarin Ice.  This was the obvious winner of the three for Our Ladies.  The Mandarin ice was perfect in its brightness and flavor, and the cheesecake, which came served with sweet red bean paste on top, was soft, creamy, and had just the right amount of sweetness.
Two starters, a noodle bowl, and a dessert for each of Our Ladies came out to about $35 a person before tip, a pretty good bargain for such a feast.  With their palates and their minds thoroughly refreshed, Bunny and Brandy are ready to once again venture into the land of savories and sweets that is Chicago's best brunch destinations.

The Short and Sweet Review

Takashi on Urbanspoon


  1. just went here for dinner this week. Looks like I'm going back for brunch. so good.

  2. good idea, minus we didn't have any for the bag..all in our belly :)

  3. Oooo...this sounds yummy!