by janet on November 19th, 2007

In terms of Brentwood sushi joints, Katsuya gets all the attention. I, however, went to Takao, the quiet but actually really talented middle child sushi joint. My beloved advisor Liz ((Cuz she looks like Liz Lemon.)) and I had been giddily Facebook-wall-posting for over a week about getting omakase [“oh-mah-kah-say”], which literally means, “I’ll leave it up to you, bro,” and is basically like a tasting menu.

Liz shared exactly half of every dish she got with the others at the table. I shared exactly none. Are you kidding? I was hungry. I could have taken down three of these omakases, no problem.

First up: Uni noodles. Uni, of course, is sea urchin. In this delicious concoction (the word “concoction” was coined, I think, solely to describe this dish) was soba tsuyu (soba sauce), soba-ish noodles made with uni, scallions, and yuba. Liz said that the tangy bits were better than the tsuyu-ey bits. Yuba sounds gross in theory but is silky-slippery and gorgeous in real life. Do you want the gross factual description? Fine. You know how when you heat up milk, that skin forms on top? Well, if you heat up soy milk, the same thing happens, and that skin is called yuba. So to make yuba, you heat up soymilk, take a long stick and lift up the skin, and chill it. To de-gross you out, just think of it as the thinnest slices of silky tofu that you’ve ever had.

Second was the most beautiful dish ever, pictured top: Halibut carpaccio with red peppercorns. It was bathed in a nice yuzu squeeze, and while I was initially scared of the peppercorns, they ended up being very tame and added a really cool crunchiness.

Next was Kanpachi with jalapeno. This had a slightly different citrus than the dish before – more orangey. Ponkan? Iyokan? Not sure. It wasn’t thrilling to look at, and a spicier jalapeño would have made the dish more fun, but I liked.

Meanwhile, down at the other end of the table, someone ordered sashimi. Look at it! Gorgeous. In fact, slap that piece of tuna on a silver ring and give it to your girlfriend.

Next was salmon sashimi “New Style.” I noticed that as the oil/fat content of the dishes increased, the white people at the table got more and more into the food. Silly white people. The enoki mushrooms on top totally made it – the whole thing was smoky-oily and scrumptious.

Next was the softest pork I have ever eaten. [Cue white people apeshit-icity.] It was grilled pork with miso sauce, but such a plain jane name does not adequately describe this dish. Melt-in-your-mouth is such a tired expression, but it’s what it was here. They told us to wrap it in a lettuce leaf, and thoughtfully gave us a warm towel to clean up afterwards. Neither Liz nor I could hold back, though, and immediately grabbed the towel and aahhed about the incredible softness of our hands.

Black cod – the only fish that could possibly be fattier than pork. I’m used to a miso treatment for black cod, but this wasn’t. I believe it was some sort of teriyaki-ish flava. I pried away the fish from the skin, but in the end couldn’t hold back and picked the crunchy/fatty skin up with my fingers and gobbled it up. Boosh.

This dish (deep-fried flounder with spicy ponzu sauce) won the “I’m pretty but not that tasty and besides, people is getting full already” award. I should have ditched the insides and just eaten the deep-fried shell. I cannot resist a fried shishito pepper, though, and even ate Liz’s spicy ass pepper, which in fact was a jalapeño that the chef had erroneously fried up. The fish shell blew my mind. Everything was edible – bones, scales, fins – all of it, and it was like an irresistably fishy potato chip. Crunchy munchy.

For our final course, we had the choice of soba, udon, or sushi. Are you fucking serious me? (See this post for an explanation.) Bring on the sushi, betches! I wanted that fucking toro, STAT. [Fatty tuna makes me swear a lot, I guess?] Oh, shit. When the fish slid down my throat and coated it with the creamy smooth fish fat, it was amazing…I went insane for a moment and vowed to spend every last penny of my fellowship eating toro.

Liz is a bit of a food-wimp at the moment, so she went for the udon. It was excellent udon, but no sexy toro. The mark of an excellent Japanese noodle is “koshi” which I guess loosely means “chewiness despite softness” (literally, it means “lower back” weird).

Ah, mochi. The best way to end a terrific meal – sticky and sweet. Happy, happy times.

11656 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90049-5104


5 Responses to “Takao”

  1. "Liz" says:

    This post brings back all the yumminess, which I really appreciate back here in cold landlocked Minnesota. We will definitely do it again some time.

    Thanks for saying I look like Liz Lemon. I LOVE that. And for calling me “beloved.” I LOVE that too!



    PS. You used my real name in there once…I don’t mind, but your readers might be confused.

  2. Hillary says:

    Loved this review. I wish I lived in Los Angeles so I could go there! That sashimi is BEAUTIFUL! I’d be happy if my boyfriend proposed with some of that….hahaha.

  3. Bri says:

    Great review! That used to be my old stomping ground a few years ago, but I must have missed that place. The dishes are gorgeous. There is a great Chinese place in Pasadena called Yujean Kang’s that serves the best tofu sheets (yuba) I’ve ever had, with assorted mushrooms and salty garlicky black bean sauce. Heck, yuba is just strange because it’s unfamiliar. How about the mammary secretions of a bovine? Yum!

  4. u are SO making me homesick for L.A.

  5. […] 3. Takao. Notable because: It was my favorite meal of 2007. Notable quote: “Oh, shit. When the fish slid down my throat and coated it with the creamy smooth fish fat, it was amazing…” […]

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