Saturday, January 22, 2011


So this past week in school we made: Pain de Mie, Muffins, Brioche (by hand..very messy) for Bee Sting Brioche & Brioche Nanterre, Whole Wheat Bread, Croissants, Beignets, Lemon Pound Cakes, French Bread, Danish (just the dough, havent shaped or finished product yet), Pain a la Biere, and other stuff that I'm probably forgetting. The nice, or well..horrible thing that is different from my previous school is that we take product home. So right now my freezer is bursting at the seams with breads and croissants. I've been eating a lot of panzanella and bread based soups. Bread pudding is on the menu for tomorrow. So much bread.

So a few weeks back I made my way over to Takashi, a Micheline starred Japanese restaurant in Bucktown. Takashi is the namesake restaurant for Chef Takashi Yagihashi, who's credentials include Yoshi's Cafe, Amria, Tribute, and Okada, as well as being named Best Chef: Midwest by the James Beard Foundation.

I decided to check it out on a Sunday - when the regular menu is replaced with their noodle dinner menu. I had been craving some solid udon for a while so I figured this was a good time for it.

I had two beers throughout my dinner: Hitachino Nest Classic Ale & Hitachino Nest White Ale. Kiuchi Brewery is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The Classic Ale was seriously delicious. White Ale was good. Espresso Stout I had at Moto was fantastic too.

Course 1:

Angus Beef Tartare, Quail Egg, Asian Pear, Cucumber, Sesame-Chili Soy - Pretty great tartare. Not quite as good as what I had at Henri, but still a solid dish. There was just enough toasted sesame flavor without being overwhelming, as it so easily can be. Quail egg added a wonderful richness. The cuke & pear were nice additions, bringing a welcome sweetness and texture to the dish.

Course 2:

Duck Fat Fried Chicken - Marinated Amish Chicken, Spicy Sesame Dressing - My notes on this dish just say 'Holy crap good'. Which pretty much sums it up. Seems everyone is doing fried chicken now a days. Thats OK by me. Flavor-wise, this was very similar to Taiwanese salt & pepper chicken. The plate was half wings and half tenders...all incredibly moist, hot, and delicious. Worth making the trip just for this plate.

Course 3:

Gyoza...pork dumpling. So dumplings, potstickers, etc.. are a little weird for me. Since having Sheena's mothers dumplings...everything is inferior. And it sucks, because Ive always been the fat kid eating the entire order of dumplings before anyone else gets them...and now all dumplings kind of suck in comparison. Now every so often if I'm somewhere that seems special or authentic, I'll order some in hopes of them at least coming close to matching Sheenas moms. These were a good try. Best Ive had in a long time. The quick pickle cucumber served on top was a nice touch.

Course 4:

Kinoko and Yamaimo Ponzu, Enoki and Shimeji Mushrooms with Taro Root and Citrus Vinaigrette - This was the worst dish of the night. Not bad by any means, but not what I was expecting. A little slimy too. Eeek!

Course 5:

Niku-Tamago Toge Udon, Sliced Rib Eye, Egg, Fried Tofu - Okay so my usual is Nabeyaki Udon, and they had a Udon on the menu very similar to Nabeyaki...but my server insisted that I try this one. And it was solid. Perfectly tender noodles, with the rib eye slowly cooking in the super hot, slightly sweet and spicy (mostly from the togorashi I added) broth. Eggs. Fishcake. Spinach... This was seriously good, soul warming udon. Love it.

Course 6:

Green Tea Shortbread, White Chocolate Mousse, Mango Sorbet, Burnt Caramel - This was...good. The presentation was a bit amateur but thats kind of a silly thing to complain about. The shortbread had a nice texture, but would benefit from a stronger green tea flavor and a little less sweetness. The white chocolate mousse was good, if I remember correctly. The mango sorbet was what I really wanted, and it was good.

So yeah, Takashi noodle dinner rules. I will be back again before leaving town. The menu is limited but totally solid and less expensive than the regular menu. And it has that chicken. So good.

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