Before I found Takahachi Tribeca I’d been a regular at Takahachi East on avenue A and 7th street for a few years. Takahachi Tribeca is far more befitting of a Tables for One experience than its sister restaurant. It’s quieter, for one thing. It’s not full of raucous couples and groups of buddies. I have experienced no excess of infants or non-adults, indigo, dandelion, or otherwise, there. Don’t be fooled by the austere entrance. Once you enter, the suffused bright light ceases to intimidate and becomes what anyone hopes to see at the end of a tunnel. Even if you have to wait, you don’t actually feel put out, the sweet Japanese hostess and/or waitress that welcome you at the door make you feel as if you’re generous and kindly as you wait.
I sat at a table with friends the first two times, and at the counter (my prefered place at a sushi bar, especially on my own) the third time. I simply asked for the sushi-sashimi combination, and asked them to give me whatever was good. Plus an uni, naturally. Offered a choice between red miso and white miso soup, I opted for the white miso whose caramel nuances are offset by a few fine tender strings of lemon zest, which recall the lemon zest in a well-prepared expresso. You’ll remember that contrast each time you return, and choose it every time over the less surprising, but not at all disappointing, red miso soup.
The star of the sushi-sashimi selection was the horse-mackerel marinated in white miso paste and sakÃ©, rinsed, and re-marinated before serving. I only know about this because my enthusiasm for it forced Koichi, the sous-chef, to tell me why it was so good. The sweet caramel taste alloys with the alcohol in the sake and seems to distill the fish oils into an unexpectedly light, very slightly smokey perfumed liquor in your mouth. Instead of fishiness, you seem to taste fresh water. You wonder how fish can taste so like fish and yet so unlike fish.
Also, “fresh from japan” was the octopus, which was surprisingly juicy, not the rubber matt it can often be, and which I still often like (there are some of us who like that boing-y feeling). It had the same fresh, briney taste to it, reminding me of the cold water left behind on an oyster shell which you always remember to drink.
Nothing disappoints, but some pieces are simply better than others. My advice is to take whatever is on special, and whatever they recommend. If you sit at the sushi bar on the left, you’ll most likely sit in front of Koichi, the sous-chef in charge of making rolls. He’ll help you choose, and if it’s a quiet night and he has time, he can be encouraged to talk sushi with you. If not, bring your The New Yorker or your Chandler with you and simply enjoy being served so gently.
I’ve heard that Takahachi regulars tell eachother not to come on Sundays because Monday is fresh catch day. I was told by one of the chefs that Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days, although sometimes they get fish early, so Mondays are often good too. I was there on a Tuesday night, around 10:30 PM, but my Friday and Saturday nights left nothing to be desired in terms of freshness that I can recall.
Takahachi isn’t the most expensive place, but it’s not the cheapest either. You can spend between $25 and $50 there alone, depending on whether you have sake and/or appetizers. I recommend you stick with the specials on a late night that you aren’t starving. The sushi isn’t the kind you want to get full on, but rather what you want to truly give your attention to in your serenity at the sushi bar alone. A place to go after a noisy party where you’ve had a few hors d’oeuvres after 10pm and you know your boyfriend has eaten everything in the fridge while you were out.
145 Duane Street off West Broadway
Take the 1 train and get off at Chamber Street