Takashi is a sleek, modern Japanese restaurant in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. While the place is noted for its sushi and ramen dishes, Takashi uses the same culinary dexterity to create vegetarian fare that can compete with anything else swimming across the menu.
Takashi has gotten a pile of good press in the last few years, from a three-and-a-half star rating in Chicago Magazine to a Tribune article where renowned culinary wunderkind Rick Bayless called Takashi's noodles the best ramen in the city. Takashi Yagihashi's tenure as a chef has seen him excel in Detroit, Las Vegas and Chicago, and he has previously been recognized by the James Beard foundation as the Best Chef in the Midwest.
The menu is short on vegetarian options. However, because the kitchen is a wellspring of talent, it bends over backward to accommodate vegetarians.
The bread was outstanding. The multigrain bread and sourdough were both exceptionally satisfying.
I started with the chilled homemade tofu. If you request that they hold the bonito flakes, the dish is a vegan preparation. The tofu is boiled and served at a cool temperature with a creamy texture. The accompanying scallions, oba leaves, seaweed and ginger soy sauce add a variety of flavors and textures to a deeply complex dish.
The vegetarian dish was prepared with a fresh market selection of the chef's choosing. There were two deep fried risotto and cheese balls, a corn and black bean cake, pickled cabbage, and a myriad of other cooked veggies and sauces. The entree was a fantastic international combination that performed together in amazing unified precision.
Takashi has a wine list that pairs well with its menu as well as an esoteric and exotic cocktail menu. Service was prompt, attentive and well paced.