To celebrate my pay rise, I took Adam out for dinner last night. A little stroll up Bourke Street Hill ended a few strides before Spring Street and into what was an unassuming Japanese restaurant on the outside, but full of warmth and elegance on the inside. The name of the place – Takumi (Japanese for “connoisseur”) – hasn’t been around for that long but it is apparently so-hot-right now. While they offer cheap bento boxes for lunches ($14, if I recall correctly), the main reason why it’s so popular with punters is because they specialise in cuts of David Blackmore wagyu which you then cook yourself on a smokeless tabletop charcoal grill which is embedded onto every table (below). I’m not a fan of restaurants where you have to actually work (i.e. cook) for your food but I was curious to see what the fuss was about…
We ordered three different entrees to start off, each of them came one after the other instead of all together which annoyed me because I like my dishes to come at once so that I can sample each of them at the same time.
First off, the salmon carpaccio ($10.80) which consisted of about 10 slices of raw salmon, marinated in a tangy carrot, onion, soy and mustard dressing. The style and the taste of this dish suspiciously reminded me of Nobu’s cooking style (as did some of the offerings on the menu such as the scallop sashimi which was “infused in sizzling oil and citrus soy sauce” … hmmmm). The fish wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked and perhaps a bit fattier than most, but I was grateful for the acidic dressing which helped counterbalance some of the richness of the flesh.
Takumi’s special ($18.80). Triangles of sliced wagyu eye fillet were only given a smidgen of time on the grill before being served with a dressing of diced caramelised onions and citrus fruits. A simple yet beautiful dish.
Yukke ($10.80). The Japanese equivalent of a steak tartare, I always order this one when I’m dining at Izakaya Chuji. Takumi’s version used a marinade made with red and green apple sauce, topped with a raw free-range egg. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really taste any apple notes in this dish (the beef and the egg had more flavour) so I guess I won’t be ordering this one again next time.
There was a bit of a wait in between our entrees and our mains. We sipped on our drinks (my Asahi was only $5 as we happened to arrive during Happy Hour [5-7pm] and Adam’s Calpis soda was $3) while we watched more people arrive, including a bunch of Bulldogs supporters who were surprisingly well-behaved (haha, yeah, I’m generalising here… apologies).
-A serving of scallops (six small pieces for $12.80)
-A serving of mushrooms (six for $3.80)
-A serving of “Jo-Hire” – premium eye fillet 100g ($24.80)
-A serving of Harami – “tender meat” 100g ($11.80)
Okay, so you can’t really differentiate between the sauces in this photo but that is what we got.
Cooking our food (our abalones were inside the foils).
The smaller slices of marbled beef on the top were what the waitress said was “harami” while the eye fillets are the thinner and flatter slices on the bottom. I found it ironic that they described the harami as “tender” as the eye fillets were much more tender than the harami. The reason why we ordered the harami was to taste the difference between a cheaper cut of wagyu which had less fat in it and one that had more marbling (the eye fillet). Obviously, the eye fillet was much richer and oh so seamless thanks to its high-fat content but those who prefer their beef to taste “more normal”, for lack of better wording, then the harami would be the way to go.
Some dot points:
-Because the meats were thin, they did not take a long time to cook so we spent much of our dinner frantically turning over the meats before they got overdone (about 80% of them, heh). The ones that we managed to cook perfectly though, were awesome.
-Having the grill so close to our faces made eating there so uncomfortably hot and had us sweating like pigs. Ew.
-I hate places where you have to cook your own stuff. Still, hot pot restaurants and Korean BBQs compensate the fact that patrons, rather than cooks, cook for themselves by charging them less than what a normal restaurant would charge. Not in Takumi‘s case. For the amount of food we ate, we were charged $119.20 which we both thought was expensive for a place that lets their patrons do most of the cooking. Okay, so David Blackmore, being the best supplier of wagyu, would charge a premium for their products and that’s fair enough but I just felt that if the restaurant cooked it for me, instead of me cooking it myself, I would have tasted better results and be happy with paying almost $120.
-We did, however, order three entrees to see what the restaurant’s skills were like. While they blatantly copied Nobu‘s style of cooking and while the entrees weren’t all THAT great, they were strangely more successful than their Nobu equivalent. And I did like dining at Takumi more than I did at Nobu – perhaps it’s because it was less pretentious?
-It goes without saying that we were both still hungry after this. Adam devoured a plate of dumplings when he got home while I ate my way through a packet of Grain Waves. Oops.
-I guess I would be curious enough to go back to Takumi again, if only to try their lunchtime bento boxes. Not sure about going back there for dinner though.
Can’t talk. Eating.