There are several things that divide Takahashi lovers, and Takahashi haters. One, they're out way out east. The fish quality isn't phenomenal. And finally, they make some Americanized sushi.
That said, the Takahashi is adorable. It has, of course, the sushi bar, where you can watch Mr. Takahashi and a collection of younger men at work, and that is definitely the best place to sit if there's just a couple of you. There are also tables, of course. A miniature train runs (sometimes) on a track above the dining room, and Japanese gee-gaws are everywhere.
The real high points of the Takahashi are the ala carte tempura choices, cooked sushi (for folks who don't care for raw fish), and low prices—especially on Wednesdays, when everything is discounted.
When you are seated, you'll get your tea and hot scented towels. I'm never sure what to do with the towels, but I like the idea.
You have your choice of three menus. The first is the goofy, hand-written laminated menu of appetizers and entrees. There are fried, rice, yakisoba, pot stickers, miso soup, sukiyaki, udon, a number of combo plates and ramen—I admit, however, that I come to the Takahashi for tempura and sushi, and it's those menus that I pay attention to.
As you might expect, the tempura and sushi menus are forms to fill out, on your table. The tempura choices are many: 16 different vegetables (including tofu! who knew? $1-$1.50), 10 types of seafood and fish ($2.50-$3, softshell crab, $8), and chicken ($2), and beef ($3). So if you'd only like to order, say, kabocha (japanese squash), onion ring, nasubi (japanese eggplant), lotus, several types of mushrooms, banana, kisu (japanese whitefish), snapper and chicken, that's what you get—two pieces of each.
The sushi menu is a great primer for Japanese food newbies: everything is spelled out. They offer nigiri (sushi on pillows of rice, $2.50-$5 for 2 pieces), and maki (sushi wrapped in rice, and then rolled in nori, $2.50-$7), and the menu indicates if the fish is raw or not. Nearly half the menu is cooked maki or nigiri.
There are also specials, which generally top out at $3.50.
Purists will be upset, surely, about the use of sweet chili sauce, Sriracha, chicken tempura, mayonnaise, and especially cream cheese. But, hey, you can get natto here.
Vegetarians have a lot of options in the tempura menu and 9 options on the sushi menu (tamago nigiri [egg & sugar omelette], kappa maki [cucumber], avocado nigiri, inari [fried tofu pocket stuffed with sushi rice], natto handroll [aged soybeans], picked daikon radish maki, shea maki [avocado, cream cheese & cucumber], spicy daikon radish sprouts, and su maki [avocado, cream cheese & asparagus].
They offer hot and cold sake, naturally, Japanese and American beers, and wine: plum or white.
The downside to the Takahashi, other than the drive, is the service. It's really erratic, going from great one visit to awful on another. The other night when we visited, it took 45 minutes to get our sushi and tempura, and from the guilty look we got from the waitress, it wasn't the kitchen's fault. It gave us lots of time to try origami (directions and paper are on each table) and learn it wasn't our style.
This is why it's best to sit at the sushi bar. You always have entertainment and your food comes faster.
The prices are great, but it still ends up being expensive unless you show some control. This last visit cost us $50—not the most we've spent here, and not the least.
Posted at November 16, 2006 * add entry to del.icio.us