Categorized | Food & Drinks, Lifestyle

Kanpai! at Takumi Restaurant

By: Rolf Tjalsma

Takumi Sake Bar

Upon entering the dining area of Takumi there is a warm greeting from the entire staff. They wish you welcome and a good spirit, setting the tone for a very special dinner in a remarkable neoteric, yet authentic environment.

Conveniently placed alongside the Senayan National Golf Club’s club house is this newly opened restaurant. Designed by Araki Sasaki, its outer body is mainly made of glass, however due to its location on the top of a hill, privacy is kept safe. The large wooden doors open automatically and we are greeted by our host, Executive Director Benjamin Lee.

There are different seating possibilities in the restaurant. Those looking for an eclectic, social experience can sit at the robata and sushi counters. Here the guests can see how their food is prepared according to the traditional ways. For a more private scene there are individual tables, most of which have a beautiful view of the surrounding golf course. And last but not least, guests can sit at the bar and dine, or just enjoy the wide selection of sake.

We are seated at the robata counter and there is a moment to look around more carefully. The sand pit in the middle of the robata kitchen stands out. “This is what makes dining at Takumi so unique,’ according to Mr. Lee. “It is the Japanese version of a barbeque. The sand allows for an equal distribution of heat and the charcoal we use is binchō-tan, a type of hardwood charcoal that burns much longer than normal wood.” The food is skewered, put into the pit, and slow-grilled by the hot charcoal. It can take anywhere between five to 30 minutes for preparation, depending on the type of food.

Takumi Robata counter with Fish BedA selection of the menu was made for us beforehand and as a first appetizer Edamame (Soybean) was served. They were crispy and sweat. Expecting a salty taste, this was a surprising twist. As a drink we were recommended Sapporo beer, a smooth, Japanese premium beer. Together with the soybeans this was a good combination.

The beer was brought and we toasted to a good dinner. The entire staff joined us with a uniform burst of Kanpai! It startled me the first time, but Mr. Lee explained that whenever guests in the restaurant toast, the staff would toast with them. It soon became a sport and throughout the evening we shared quite a few amusing Kanpai’s with the staff.

As a second appetizer we had Sashimi Moriawase and Ootoro (Assorted raw fish and fatty tuna platter). This was a wild combination of tuna, baby squid, octopus, salmon and hamachi (or yellowtail), all of which tasted very fresh. Even the garnish was quite unique; do not hesitate to try it.

A special notion has to be made about the manner of serving when seated at either counter. By way of a spatula, like used with traditional brick ovens, the dishes are handed over to the guest, who can pick it up and put it on the counter. This unusual interaction with the kitchen is another welcome surprise, making it even more worthwhile to take a seat there.

The Kinoko Foil Tsutsumi Yaki (Mixed mushroom wrapped in foil) and Takumi Medama Tsukune (Minced chicken burger with egg yolk) were the first to be served this way. The mushrooms stayed warm due to the foil wrapped around it, which made it possible to relish from the mushrooms throughout the dinner. The burger was very juicy and together with the poached egg yolk made for a nice combination.

The following main courses were happily introduced with a bottle of premium sake, Osaka-Ya Chobei Daiginjyo. Served mildly chilled, this sake has a rich taste and is a perfect suitor to accompany the Japanese kitchen. More Kanpai! would soon follow.

Assorted SashimiThe seafood served at Takumi is imported from Tsukiji fish market in Japan, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Everything is selected on the criteria of quality and freshness, especially evident in our next dish; Hokkaido Kinki, or Kinki fish-robata style. This very delicious fish melts in your mouth and if you don’t mind the price, it is definitely a must-try.

Together with the Hokkaido Kinki came Managatsuo (Golden pomfret). Also cooked robata-style the meat of this fish was rich and sturdy. With no added spices other than salt the taste cannot be closer to a true beach barbeque on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. To evenly distribute the salt it is sprayed over the fish with a sprayer containing only saltwater.

Feeling quite saturated already we were surprised by the Wagyu Wara Yaki (Straw fire grilled Australian Wagyu beef). This beef is known throughout the world as the best due to the special treatment these cows are given. Takumi delivers a simple but very tasty Wagyu dish, only seared on the outside to seal in the juices of the beef.

In the meanwhile Maguro Goma Age (Deep fried tuna coated with sesame) was served with the spatula, not a big fan of sesame this dish lost a bit of attention to the Wagyu.

Last but not least we were served some savory Sushi Moriawase with uni (Assorted sushi with sea urchin platter). As a customer I would have chosen more of these dishes. However, the selection of dishes presented to us was very extensive and this enabled us to taste an incredible range of different things. And to be independently honest; all of this was wonderfully scrumptious.

The recommended desert was Maccha Mousse pudding and Shiratama cream Anmitsu (Green tea icecream with mocchi and assorted fruits and maccha mousse pudding). Both certainly satisfy anyone with a knack for something different and a sweet tooth.

Overall experience at Takumi was unlike any I have ever had. The staff is well trained, polite and creates a good atmosphere, the design allows for a suitable social or private experience, and the food is very fresh and well prepared.

That leaves only one thing for me to say: Kanpai!

About Rolf Tjalsma

Rolf is a student from Belanda and works as an intern at Golf Indonesia. Likes music and travelling, dislikes sunburn and traffic. He is starting to appreciate golf by hanging around on courses during working hours.

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