Going 'home', Japanese style

Updated: 2011-10-09 07:59

By Donna Mah (China Daily)

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Going 'home', Japanese style

The 10-course tatami premium tasting menu includes such dishes as sashimi salad, appetizers, seared toro and a deluxe sashimi platter. Donna Mah / For China Daily

Hong Kong

This little shop-style restaurant reminds me of quaint little local places in dimly lit alleyways in Japan. It's not a big place and is decorated with the dark wood common in the local haunts.

However, Taku is not located in a small village or the old quarters somewhere in Japan, but on Elgin Street in the hip and trendy Soho area.

They don't serve steaming hot bowls of ramen at a bar here either, but they do serve traditional Japanese delicacies, including their homemade tofu. I was told it took them about 100 attempts before they found a recipe they were happy with.

Go up the narrow wooden staircase and you'll find a tatami room with wood-framed shoji doors above the main dining area. This is the setting for Taku's new geisha performance, where the restaurant's two geishas welcome guests and provide entertainment in the form of sake ceremonies and fan dances.

A special tatami tasting premium menu is served with the performance. I'm not sure if the geisha performance is something I need to experience outside of Japan, but it might be fun enjoyed with a group of friends.

Taku means "home" in Japanese and in this cozy little place, they are serving some delicious traditional favorites on their new menus.

The tatami tasting menu includes two starters, gyuniku made with tataki (briefly seared) Angus beef and served with a tart ponzu sauce, toro (fatty tuna) and uni (sea urchin) sashimi, grilled fish, homemade scallop and vegetable cakes, a chef's selection of sushi, chawanmushi (steamed egg with shrimp and shiitake mushrooms), and dessert for HK$650 ($83) per person.

Going 'home', Japanese style

The premium tasting menu includes the Taku sashimi salad, three appetizers, seared toro, a deluxe sashimi platter which includes awabi (abalone), grilled squid, deep-fried seasonal fish, grilled chicken and leek skewer, assorted sushi, chawanmushi, and dessert for HK$780 per person.

The geisha experience is an optional add-on that needs at least eight diners (up to 12) and includes exclusive hire of the tatami room for the evening, a complimentary Lucky beer on arrival, a 30-minute geisha performance, a Japanese fan to take home as a memento of the evening, and a sake ceremony with a glass of sake for each guest, plus the 10-course tasting menu. The cost is HK$1,200 per person for the first eight people and then HK$980 for every additional guest.

For the geisha experience, bookings must be made 48 hours in advance.

Another Taku touch is that the shoyu (soya sauce) for "dipping" is served in ceramic pots with brushes for brushing the soya sauce onto your food. It's fun to "paint" your food before digging in.

You may contact the writer at sundayed@chinadaily.com.cn.

Going 'home', Japanese style

Taku's two geishas welcome guests and provide entertainment in the form of sake ceremonies and fan dances.