People often ask, "What's your favorite place for sushi?"
Before I can respond, they say, "We like Takashi."
In the past, Takashi has not been my number one choice - or even two. There is almost always a wait, parking is often difficult and the place is noisy.
After a recent dining experience, which included spectacular food and impressive surroundings, Takashi has moved to the top of my list. The only thing that detracted from the meal were a few missteps in service.
On that evening, the parking came easy and two seats at the sushi bar came quickly.
The décor at the four-year-old restaurant is sleek. White paper lanterns of all sizes hang over butcher paper-topped tables in the industrial space. A gigantic metallic fish, suspended from the ceiling smack-dab in front of the sushi bar, makes a big impression.
Though we weren't seated near chef-owner Takashi Gobi, I had a good feeling about our sushi chef. He was precise and had a seriousness about him that matched Takashi-san's.
The high-quality fish is neither too cold nor too warm; sushi rice is cooked and seasoned just right. Trust your sushi chef and ask for recommendations. There also is a specials board of innovative creations. That is where my dining partner and I discovered tempura-fried shishito peppers ($5 each). We took a cue from a neighbor and got these vibrant green Japanese chilies - that have just a hint of heat - with tuna tartare (4 for $20). The textures were at once crunchy and creamy, grassy and meaty.
Little embellishments also made big impressions. A simple appetizer of shatteringly crispy shrimp and vegetable tempura ($9.50) shares the plate with dashi dipping sauce and housemade matcha tea powder-infused kosher salt that begs to be licked off of the plate.
In the sashimi combinations, Pacific mackerel, cured in-house, accompanies maguro bincho (seared albacore), squid and salmon (10-piece, $13.95; 15-piece, $21.50); a seaweed and daikon radish salad sings with baby smoked squids ($5.50); and omega-3-rich sablefish ($5.95) gets a hint of char by a cooking torch prior to serving.
The sablefish, also known as black cod, is a perfect complement to the dry unfiltered sake in a flight of three rice wines ($6.50). In addition to the extensive sake list, there are a variety of beers and wines that pair with Takashi's non-fish entrees such as shiitake lamb shank ($23.50) and "ridiculously tender" flank steak ($18.50).
I only wish that precision and professionalism found in the food and chef skills carried over to some members of the waitstaff. Servers chewed gum, waited long stretches to pick up empty plates and sporadically filled water glasses.
Locals would be wise to stay away from Takashi when conventions such as Outdoor Retailers are in town. But I am now willing to take a gamble on parking and endure the wait and loud acoustics for what I think is the best place for sushi in Salt Lake City.
Lesli J. Neilson can be contacted at email@example.com. Her phone number is 801-257-8661. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Takashi's sushi is a cut above
Overall rating »
Noise » 4 bells
In a nutshell: Incredible attention to detail in the kitchen, making this one of the best places around for sushi - if you don't mind the sometimes long waits and noise factor.
Where » 18 W. Market St. (340 South), Salt Lake City; 801-519-9595
Hours » Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Monday to Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Children's menu » No
Prices » $$$
Liquor » Beer and wine
Corkage » $8
Reservations » For parties of 6-10 before 6 p.m. only
Takeout » Yes
Wheelchair access » Yes
Outdoor dining » No
On-site parking » No
Credit cards » All major