Takumi serves Japanese cuisine fresh off the grill


Published: Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005

A chef prepares food in front of guests at Takumi in Nashua on Friday.
Staff photo by Ed Wozniak
A chef prepares food in front of guests at Takumi in Nashua on Friday.

NASHUA – After a half-million dollars worth of renovations, a new Japanese restaurant and sushi bar has opened in the former Ming Garden building.

Takumi, modeled after the award-winning Oga's Japanese Cuisine restaurant in Natick, Mass., serves up the freshest sushi and “real” Japanese food north of Boston, according to restaurant manager Motoi Nakanishi.

When he says “real” Japanese food, Nakanishi is referring to food they make themselves, and fish that comes fresh, not frozen.

“We're not just going to buy it from somebody else, we're going to make it,” Nakanishi said.

Upon entering the 197 Daniel Webster Highway eatery, guests encounter a soothing, in-ground water fountain filled with swimming fish and surrounded by a fancy stone floor. Various Japanese decorations abound, and tall bamboos give an authentic Japanese feel while jazz music fills the air. Transparent, custom-made copper curtains hang from the ceilings, complementing the handsome cherry wood floor and pine countertops.

“I tried to make it a New York style restaurant,” said Nakanishi, pointing to the handmade glass and wood partitions. “The customers always come in here and say, ‘wow, this is different.'”

Ming Garden, the Chinese restaurant that used to exist in the building, closed in July 2003 because of lack of business and too much competition.
A koi pond graces the lobby of Takumi in Nashua. Staff photos by ED Wozniak
A koi pond graces the lobby of Takumi in Nashua.

The 183-seat Takumi has a bar area/lounge that seats 52, and the restaurant gives diners a choice of sitting at Teppan tables, the sushi bar or the dining room.

Takumi (which means “master”) has yet to advertise, but is already frequented by repeat visitors who come for the fresh sushi or to eat from one of the 10 Teppanyaki.

Teppanyaki is stir-fried food eaten off a large table-top grill. The word comes from the Japanese words for iron and stir-fry.

Trained Teppan masters cook steak, lobster, chicken or vegetables right in front of the guests.

“Our menu is for everyone, whether you eat raw fish or don't eat raw fish,” said Executive Sushi Chef Michael Wang, holding up a whole eel imported from Japan. “We buy everything whole,” he said.

Takumi imports fish from Japan twice a week, and gets deliveries from Boston three times a week.

When it gets busier, Wang anticipates having daily deliveries.

“Some people in the business use frozen fish,” Wang added. “Experienced people, they notice the difference.”

What sets Takumi apart from other Japanese restaurants and sushi places is the quality of the fish they order, Wang said. They even make their own marinades from scratch. “Everything we do ourselves.”

Wang trained for more than a decade with Toru Oga, part owner of Takumi, and owner of Oga's Japanese Cuisine in Natick, which has been featured numerous times in the Boston Globe.
A sushi platter prepared at Takumi. A sushi platter prepared at Takumi.

“Actually, we have had many customers from the Boston area to eat Michael's sushi since we opened the restaurant in June,” Nakanishi said, adding that he gets reservation calls for the 12-seat sushi bar counter in front of Wang.

“Every day, I see new customers,” Wang said. “To me, I want a customer to come here and say, ‘give me whatever is good today.' I'll be happy to give them some new fish they can try.”

Takumi serves more than 30 varieties of sushi.

A la carte prices range from $3 to $7.25.

The four-page menu showcases entrees from the sushi bar range from $14 for Tekka-Maki Dinner (fresh raw tuna and seasoned rice rolled in seaweed) to $46 for the Lobster & Sashimi Combo.

At the Teppan stations, entrees range from $18.95 for teriyaki sliced beef to $25.95 for rack of lamb. All Teppan entrees include miso soup, salad and steamed rice. Soon, kobe beef, a super-tender beef from Japan, will be available.

“You don't need to bite it,” he said. “It melts in your mouth.”

Takumi may have just opened June 23, but the staff already has big plans for the restaurant.


LOCATION:197 Daniel Webster Highway

PHONE: 891-1717

WEB SITE: http://www.takumijapanese.com/

HOURS: Monday-Thursday: 11:45 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday: 11:45 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Saturday: noon-10:30 p.m.; Sunday: noon-9 p.m.

Karen Spiller can be reached at 594-6446 or spillerk@telegraph-nh.com.