1962 N Damen
Date of Last Visit: Thursday, March 3
Victims: Theresa, Steve
Damage: $50 each?
The Background: I’ve known Theresa since kindergarten. Crazy. She’s appeared on this blog before, when she came to London for work in the autumn of 2009 and we had a nice meal at Le Cafe du Marche in Clerkenwell. Fast-forward 18 months later and Theresa is now married and pregnant and I’m living back in Chicago and my new place is right down the street from hers. Crazy how life works.
So we made plans to meet for dinner and Takashi seemed like a good neighborhood option on the basis of both word-of-mouth as well as ueberly excellent reviews online. I was looking forward to it.
The Entrance: Takashi is in a little house on Damen. I liked this about it. It’s cozy and massively unlike the massively massive restaurants you find in River North. We’re given a nice corner table upstairs, which I like because I can survey the room–I’m an observer–and there’s lots of space for my bags. (I’m also a bag lady.)
The Starter: We split an order of the soy-ginger caramel pork belly with pickled daikon salad and steamed buns. I loved this. The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth tender and I loved making up the little bun sandwich. The dressing on the salad was also ace. Only three buns though and four slices of pork belly…Steve was kind enough to go halfsies with me on the last bit of belly.
My Main: The roasted wasabi crusted New York strip steak was, well, just a steak. And that’s not saying a lot given we’re in Chicago. I wanted some more char on the outside and some more flavor to the meat. Also, I expected some bite from the wasabi but it really didn’t taste like anything all. (Then again, maybe I’ve eaten so much wasabi in my time that I’m immune to it.) The potato cake there on the side was a bit on the dry side…it was crying out for some wasabi or more of the mysterious “aromatic sauce” referred to on the menu. In summary, this was a perfectly acceptable dish for the average diner who doesn’t get out much. For me…meh.
The Verdict: Go for the pork belly. Also, they do a Sunday noodle brunch that I hear is good and which I’d like to check out. But otherwise? Not so sure I’ll be bee-lining it back here anytime soon.