Takeda’s Delectable New Omakase Menu

There lies a hidden gem at 566 Amsterdam Avenue (between 87th and 88th streets) — almost literally. Behind the humble exterior and inconspicuous black curtain, one can find meticulously organized table settings, golden placemats, intricately painted porcelain dishes, friendly staff who display the utmost attention to detail, and an unforgettable omakase dining experience (a Japanese culinary concept meaning “leaving it up to the chef”) specially curated by Chef Yukihiro Takeda.

Takeda first opened in December 2019 and was sadly forced to close three months later in the face of the pandemic. A year after that, they bounced back, becoming one of the most difficult restaurants at which to get a reservation (reservations are required) and earning nearly perfect ratings on Google and Yelp along with a top spot on Eater’s list of best sushi restaurants in New York City.

Chef Takeda hails from Osaka, Japan, known to be one of the country’s most “gourmand” cities. He brings to his restaurant 40 years of Japanese culinary experience and scrupulousness in his craft. As soon as I entered and was escorted to my seat at the counter (dining is counter-only with up to eight guests per seating), I observed Chef Takeda thinly slicing pieces of fish with absolute precision and care. His painstaking conscientiousness is reflected in the taste and aesthetic of each item in the delectable nineteen-course meal I savored one recent evening. Takeda’s offerings change every season to ensure the freshness of the ingredients, and each item is individually prepared right before your eyes.

One plate worthy of mentioning was the ocean trout sashimi with cucumber, yellow bell peppers, Japanese ginger, and a light vinegar sauce, which tasted fresh and juicy. This was followed by a fried sweet fish called chi ayu tempura, a dish that originates in Shiga, Japan and whose season has just begun. One can taste the natural sea salt and the external crispiness complemented by the internal meatiness.

Ocean Trout Sashimi

Chiayu

There were also three types of sushi I particularly enjoyed: a halfbeak fish called sayori from Chiba, Japan; sea bream from Ehime; and a dry-aged fatty tuna called kamatoro. The softness of the rice accentuated the chewiness of the fish.

Sayori

Toro

Another noteworthy dish was a freshwater eel from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. This dish contained sushi rice, seaweed, egg, sancho peppers, and Japanese paper. The smokiness and charcoal taste really came out here, starting to give some robustness to the meal.

Striped Jack

While each item was truly enjoyable, perhaps my favorite part of the meal was the grilled lobster with scallion, egg yolk, and maple leaf tempura. This dish originates from Kyoto, Japan, and what made the lobster especially delicious was the white miso sauce that gave the fish a sense of warmth and heartiness. Having the lobster with the white miso sauce felt like indulging in comfort food.

Golden Eye Snapper

Freshwater Eel

Lobster

The fish broth clear soup was the perfect follow-up to the grilled lobster — equally enjoyable, but a bit of calm after some excitement. The soup contained seaweed, dashi, spinach, and yellow chrysanthemum. In the middle was a piece of green yomodi tofu, which also had a smoky flavor. The tofu was topped with a piece of striped bass with plum sauce.

The meal concluded with karinto manijyu, a deep-fried Japanese donut made with natural brown sugar from Okinawa Japan and filled with white sweet bean. The dessert was sweet without being overpowering and was served with soba cha, or buckwheat tea—a healthy, non-caffeinated tea that helps one relax at the end of a long day and fall into a restful slumber.

Takeda’s flavorful fish feast is heightened by the affable demeanor of servers and Chef Takeda himself, all of whom took the time to carefully explain each item and answer all of my questions. The pride and passion that go into the preparation, presentation, and service at Takeda are unparalleled.

At Takeda, there are two omakase seatings each night: 5:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Each experience is two hours and fifteen minutes and consists of a 19- to 20-course meal. To learn more, please visit takedanyc.com and follow @takeda_sushi on Instagram. Reservations can be made at Resy.

 

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