12/17/2012 11:15:00 AM

The Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Kaiseki Dinner at Takashi

The art of the special occasion, it’s one few master. Whether it’s an anniversary, birthday, or apologizing for forgetting one of those two – special occasions calls for special meals. However, between the monetary investment and pressure to form lasting memories, it can be challenging to choose the right restaurant. Stop wasting brain cells scouring restaurant reviews, we’ve found the prefect fifth date spot and all-around adorable meal.

Takashi’s recently began serving a Japanese kaiseki dinner every Sunday night. For that evening, they put away their usual menus and serve only a seven or 11-couse prixe fixe menu with optional pairings. We sampled the 11-course last night, with the sake, wine and beer pairings. Aside from the intimate setting of the to-story restaurant built into what looks like a tiny house dropped into the middle of Bucktown, the food is never anything less than stunning.

The meal began with thee raw course including an oyster with trout roe and yuzu vinaigrette. These were followed by pork belly then a Matsutake Mushroom soup served in a teapot. The trio of tempura, which marked the halfway point of the meal, was one of our favorites and reminded us that chef Takashi Yagihashi is a master of Japanese cuisine but also at incorporating traditional French flavors and techniques. A crispy prawn and tempura lotus root were served with a battered and fried piece of Brie. This course was paired with a white ale, a refreshing change to pairings that limit themselves to only wine.

The second half of the meal included a trout dishes followed by our other favorite plate of the evening. Waygu beef was served with miso-peanuts, which had the consistency and sweetness of warm peanut brittle, along with sesame-topped Japanese potato. The mal concluded with one of Takashi’s signature bowls of noodles, full of flavor and a comforting means to ease our increasingly full stomachs. Then, a sheep’s milk panna cotta with yuzu curd was followed by a red bean soup with rice dumplings.

We loved this meal for two reasons. The first was the beautiful paling of each course that was brought to us in a timely manner (11-courses took less than two hours). Second, was the consistency of Takashi’s cooking; strong flavors, fresh ingredients and proper preparation are always present. The seven-course costs $73 (add beverage pairings for $45) and the 11-course costs $100 (add beverage pairings for $55). There is little doubt that every diner got their money’s worth and walked away with an unforgettable dining experience.

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