Sherman's Food Adventures: Takenaka


With the challenges that go with running a dine-in establishment these days due to Covid-19, it seems the ones that have outdoor dining as well as delivery/take-out options are best suited to survive.  In actuality, the restaurants that didn't have dine-in options to begin with didn't even have to change anything, such as food trucks and purely takeout operations.  That is why the new Takenaka food truck appears to have the right business model during these very strange times.  Offering restaurant-quality dishes (owner of Raisu has a stake in the truck) served out of a food truck (and commissary) for takeout, delivery and limited outdoor seating, this may be the way to do things at the moment.  Mijune and I recently visited the outfit and dined "Mijune-style". 

Starting light with a couple of salads and one item called Snow Crab on the Egg.  Pretty literal name, but it was essentially a boiled egg with snow crab and ikura on top.  Simple, but good with natural flavours and sweetness.  I enjoyed the Sozai Salad the most because there was chicken to go with the kale.  But the dressing was also very good being nutty and just sweet enough.  The Kawaii Salad with spicy beet dressing was a refreshing mix of kale, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.  I thought the spice was mild, but that was fine as it probably wouldn't work for this salad if it was scorching hot.

The bulk of the menu is dedicated to maki sushi and we decided on several including Snow Crab Roll, House Roll, Unagi Roll and Steak Roll.  As you can clearly see, the rolls were large and stuffed full to the brim with ingredients rather than just rice.  On top of that, the quality of the ingredients was good as well as the preparation.  Of the 4, I thought the unagi roll had the best balance of flavour and texture.  However, the abundance of filling in the snow crab roll made for a luxurious experience.

Eating 4 rolls wasn't apparently enough for us, so we also had the slightly different Mayowill Roll which was essentially a house roll coated in tempura batter and deep-fried.  Even though the heat softened the rice a bit, the consistency of the sushi rice was still good being chewy and just moist enough. The light crunch from the batter gave some texture while the sweet tangy dip went well with the mild-tasting ingredients.

Off to some Temaki, we tried the Lobster, Uni and Bluefin.  These continued the trend of the maki sushi where they were stuffed full of quality ingredients.  All 3 were very good in their own ways.  The lobster was the most hearty with a tempura-fried small tail with real crab meat.  Really enjoyed the fresh sweetness of the uni that was further enhanced with snow crab, ikura and yuzu tobiko.  The bluefin had a beautiful sheen where it was accompanied by snow crab, scallops, ikura and yuzu tobiko.  Something along the same lines without the sushi rice, we found the Seafood Tartar servied with nori.  This was a good mix of fish with 2 tobiko and ikura.  Very simple and fresh.

Staying on the same theme, the Bara Charashi was a colourful mix of salmon and tuna with snow crab, scallops, tamago, ikura, 2 types of tobiko, radish sprouts, shiso-marinated kelp and cucumber.  Since the sushi rice was layered with more ingredients, the bites were balanced and there was actually more ingredients than rice itself.  Again, the fresh ingredients spoke for themselves as well as the properly-prepared rice.  Loved the addition of scallops and snow crab as it added another level of sweetness.  Lots of tobiko ensured pops of ocean brightness.

Still with the raw stuff, we had the Yuzu Tuna Tataki with with a ponzu jelly atop marinated seaweed.  As an aside, loved the plastic packaging they used as it paired well with the colourful food.  Once again, this was excellent with delicate tuna that was lightly seared evenly on all sides.  The ponzu jelly provided pops of saltiness to go with the bright tang of the yuzu.  Classic flavours that were both familiar and delicious.

For our 2 cooked items, we had the Ebi-Mayo as well as the Chicken Karaage.  Nothing amiss with these ones as the deep fry was even where the batter on the ebi was not too thick while crunchy.  It was served with a side of chili-mayo.  As for the chicken karaage, the outside was crispy and the inside was juicy and well-seasoned.  For me personally, I like the fact I can get ebi-mayo to go!

We weren't originally planning to order the Wagyu Shabu Shabu Udon with thinly sliced beef, radish sprouts, seasoned egg, yuzu zest, Sanuki udon and original udon broth.  However, it was suggested we try it.  Wow, this was excellent with strong impactful aroma and seasoning from the broth.  It was meaty and full of umami.  It was so effective that it seasoned the noodles with penetrating flavours.  The beef was so tender and buttery with full meatiness due to the fat content.  I highly recommend this dish.

In a custom to-go box, the Kaiseki Bento Box was as stunning as any take-out can get.  This needed to be pre-ordered. Taking a page from Raisu, this featured 9 different chef's omakase tapas including Saikyo miso grilled black cod, pickled zucchini and eggplant, chicken karaage, whelk with tobiko mayo, house roll, chicken salad, stewed pork belly, snow crab on egg and steak with wasabi sauce.  This could also be made into a combo with a half or full-sized chirashi bowl.

We also tried the Makunouchi Bento that sported some of the same items such as the egg, black cod, chicken salad, whelk, karaage and pickles.  However, the most obvious difference was the beautiful mini-seafood bara chirashi.  There was nothing mini about it as it was quite filling. Again, the best thing about the bento box was the fresh quality ingredients.  Yes, the boxes cost $30.00 and $26.00 respectively and despite being take-out, the food is restaurant-quality if not even better.

One of the most simple-looking items was the Almond Tofu with peach & orange jelly.   Don't let the appearances fool you as this was freakin' delicious.  Aromatic and just lightly sweet, the delicate tofu did its best pannacotta impersonation while topped with a naturally sweet and tangy fruit mixture.  An excellent finish to some pretty impressive looking and tasting food.  Takenaka is just the right food truck at the right time.  With all the Covid-19 concerns about eating within a restaurant, Takenaka offers up restaurant-quality food (just like Raisu) in a convenient take-out format complete with custom containers to match.  I would gladly eat this again.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:

- Fairly extensive menu

- Restaurant-quality eats

- Quality ingredients

The Bad:

- Not necessarily inexpensive for a food truck, but the food quality is that of a restaurant


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