Friday, September 9, 2011
A Delicious Affair: Takemura
My momma told me to never go out for sushi on a rainy day—something about the sushi chefs not serving a fresh filet of fish on those days, she said. I usually listen to what Mom says, but I was craving sushi so much the other day that I just had to be the disobedient daughter.
Because I was lounging at the Harvard Kennedy School around dinnertime, I decided to go to the nearest Japanese restaurant called Takemura (18 Eliot St. Cambridge, MA). The atmosphere leaves something more to be desired, as I was not a fan of its plain wooden furniture in a dimly lit basement. Since I came with a close girl friend, thus not needing a romantic setting, the atmosphere didn’t matter too much.
Takemura’s extended menu offers a wide range of food, ranging from sashimi to udon noodle to even Korean food. The most impressive menu, however, was the different specialty roll with unique names like “Obama Maki” and “Red Sox.” Despite the weather, I ordered a nigiri sushi platter ($16.95), chef's choice of assorted fillets of raw fish served on sushi rice, while my friend had Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap ($12.95), a Korean delicacy of beef, fried egg, and assorted vegetables served on a bed of rice in a sizzling stone pot. We also decided to share salmon-scallop roll ($10.95), scallop and cucumber roll with filet of salmon and slices of avocado on top.
There was a large group of 10 dining in the restaurant, so the waiter told us that our sushi roll might be delayed a bit. We sipped on a warm cup of green tea and citron tea as we waited for our food.
The first entrée that graced our table was Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap. The sizzling sound of rice, together with the savory smell of beef, vegetables, and egg frying in the hot pot, made my mouth water. We squirted a dollop of red pepper paste and mixed all the ingredients together. The phrase “Saving the best for last” is so suiting to this dish—the lightly scorched rice that sticks to the bottom of the hot stone pot is crispier than potato chips, a perfect ending to a delicious, healthy dish.
While we were busy digging our spoons into the hot stone pot, the waiter brought the nigiri sushi platter and salmon-scallop roll on white, rectangular plates. The sushi platter had six pieces of nigiri, or raw filet of fish (two tuna, salmon, shrimp, yellowtail, mackerel) over rice, as well as six tuna maki. Both the shrimp and yellowtail nigiri were a bit on the dry side, and the rice could have been seasoned with more flavors. Furthermore, there was an imbalance in the amount of tuna and rice in the maki because all I could taste was the rice.
(This isn't exactly what we had, but it's close enough)
On the other hand, the salmon-scallop roll was a sweet surprise to an otherwise mediocre dining experience. The layers of avocado and salmon on top added visual attractiveness to the sushi roll with thin slices of cucumber and scallop. The sushi pieces were so big that I had to eat them in two bites. The fresh salmon melted right as it touched the tip of my tongue. The mishmash of crunchy cucumber and slimy scallop provided a fantastic textural combination.
Although the restaurant was packed despite it being a weekday night, the waiter constantly refilled our tea as soon as it ran out and asked us about our food. Overall, Takemura is not an exceptional, four-star quality restaurant, but a decent place for anyone craving one food item the Harvard dining hall can never serve.