Restaurants & Bars 6

Review: Takamatsu (West Valley)

jhenner | Jan 14, 200807:45 PM

On our first night together, I took my wife to Stingray, and cultivated in her a love for sushi and temperamental jewish men. Since then, whenever Tamara feels particularly tongue-sexy, she asks for sushi.

The culinary scene in the far west valley may still be in its infancy, but it recently acquired a sushi restaurant. Tamara and I drive past Takamatsu on our way to the Mother-in-law's domain. Each time, we commit ourselves to trying it. Saturday, with our 6 month old Kai in tow, we decided to brave it.

Takamatsu hides in a dilapidated strip mall across from Luke's Air Force base. Its neighbor is a U-Haul rental and Tailor shop. Drivers share the parking lot with random trucks.

Its inside is Wisconsin-pizza-parlor-meets-cherry-and-black-verneer. The east corner of the restaurant hosts the sushi bar, while a massive drink bar takes up most of the restaurant space. We sat on the west side. The waitress produced a child seat for Kai; however, it was one of those wide-mouth wooden ones suitable only for fat-bottomed toddlers. Kai quickly slid around until I rescued him.

Takamatsu's main menu contains both Korean and Japanese fare. The sushi menu is separate and is the usual check-off style. The sushi available is standard gaijin, with the philly rolls, caterpillar rolls, and a small selection of nigiri and sashimi.

I ordered Bulgoki ($13.95) and Unagi nigiri ($4.95). Tamara had the Caterpillar roll ($10.50) and the Philly roll ($6.50).

The waitress brought our first course quickly. Takamatsu's miso does not impress. It's bulk miso, likely from packages. The usual green vegetables and cubed tofu floating in a cloudy mixture goes down well, but I really would liked something different.

My Bulgoki arrived not to long after I finished my Miso. With it came a bowl of rice and four pickled side dishes.

The pickles were definitely canned. I enjoyed the pressed pickle slices with red ginger-pepper sauce. The kim chi, on the other hand, was barely tolerable. I grew up eating kim chi prepared by a proper Korean grandmother. What Takamatsu served barely passed muster. The remaining two pickle dishes; bean sprouts and cabbage, served as nice palette cleansers.

My rice was quite overcooked and was so glutenous that I wondered if they ran out of regular rice and started serving mochi rice.

The bulgoki wasn't too bad. It was hot, sweet, oily, and resting on a bed of charred onions. The meat was marinated to tenderness; however, the fibers were stringy indicated that while the marinade retained juiciness, the meat overcooked. I wouldnt order it again, but at the moment, I do not know any better place for bulgoki.

While I worked on my bulgoki, Tamara received her sushi. I don't like philly rolls, so I'm unable to give my thoughts. Tamara said it was nice. The avocado on the Caterpillar roll overwhelmed any of its insides. I can only say that it was creamy.

Of two types of Unagi rolls: tough and over barbecued, and perfect, mine was the latter. Takamatsu, at least, got one fantastic mark that night.

Takamatsu's best aspect is its service. Our waitress worked with our communication barriers and tolerated our very mobile and noisy sun. When Kai grabbed my phone and threw it, the waitress rushed to retrieve it.

The food at Takamatsu may be resoundingly average, but the drink bars' prominence shows that food may not be their primary focus. Given the proximity to Luke's, I'm not surprised. Were I desperate for sushi, I may go again. Other than that, I think I'll look for better asian food in the west valley.

Total price for everything was about $57 - about right for a sushi place.

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