OVERALL: **** 1/2 (4.5 stars)
FOOD: **** (4 stars)
SERVICE: **** (4 stars)
VALUE: ***** (5 stars)
GOOD FOR: An all-you-can eat hibachi lunch that will fill you up, but won't leave your wallet empty.
HOUSE SPECIALTIES: Hibachi-grilled entrees and sushi.
PRICES: The Express Lunch is available for $9.95. Dinners range from $12.75 to $19.75.
HOURS: 11:45 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:45 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, noon-10:30 p.m. Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
ITEM TO TRY: You just can't beat the lunch buffet from 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Takumi provides an incentive to drop in on Sundays: Kids 10 and younger eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.
ALCOHOL: The restaurant has a wide selection of beer, wine and imported sake.
SMOKING: Yes, in designated areas.
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes.
PAYMENT: Major credit cards.
VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY: Takumi features several vegetarian items on both its entree and sushi menus, including the Vegetable Tempura ($12.75).
As the Mystery Diner, I am always on the lookout for great meals and good deals, and last week, I stumbled on the answer to the following question: What is Nashua's best-kept lunch secret?
A co-worker and I decided to try the new Japanese restaurant on Daniel Webster Highway, Takumi Sushi and Hibachi. We are both fans of D.W. Highway's other hibachi, the Tokyo Steakhouse, and we were anxious to compare them.
The entranceway is airy and sparse - rather like a Zen garden. A small pond filled with bright orange-and-white Koi dominates one corner. A single stone bench hugs the wall separating the entranceway from the main restaurant. Beds of white rocks sit beneath large windows. It is a bit jarring to leave D.W. Highway and find yourself in such a serene setting.
The friendly host immediately ushered us into the main dining room, in which the nature theme continues. The walls are painted light beige and lined with spindly trees, stripped of their bark, that stretch from the ceiling to the floor, where they are embedded in beds of white rocks. The L-shaped room holds four large Teppan grills, each of which seats 18 patrons. The tables, high-backed chairs and a room divider separating the Teppan dining room from the sushi bar are all of very dark wood. The decor fuses Asian inspiration and Mission style.
In the other dining area, sectioned off with dark wood panels and rice-paper windows is the sushi bar, which runs the length of the room and is illuminated by red-orange pendant lights suspended from the ceiling. As the Mystery Diner, it is my responsibility to come up with a more sophisticated way of saying, "This place is wicked cool," but this place is wicked cool.
And here's the best part: Takumi offers a special, all-you-can-eat "Express Teppan Lunch," from 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. For $9.95, you get soup, salad, a Teppan entree grilled right in front of you and unlimited trips to the "Express Station," which includes rice, noodles, appetizers and more.
Yes, you read that right: $9.95 for soup, salad and an all-you-can-eat buffet. You may leave feeling 10 pounds heavier, but your wallet won't be much lighter.
My co-worker and I wasted no time exploring the Express Station and returned with heaping plates. While we were gone, bowls of Miso soup and salads were placed on the table in front of us. Every time I've had soybean-based Miso soup, I've found it a bit salty, and Takumi's was no exception. That said, there's nothing like a steaming bowl of soup to warm you up on a fall afternoon.
I followed the soup with a salad of iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet dressing, then dug into the appetizers.
Buffets are dangerous because even if you only try one of everything, you've still eaten a whole lot more than you usually do. I opted for some lo mein, a miniature shrimp egg roll, a portion of stir-fried beef, two steamed dumplings, or Gyoza, and something called Shumai.
I thought the small, almost mushroom-shaped Shumai might be fried potato, but according to the menu, Shumai are actually shrimp dumplings.
The stir-fried beef was reminiscent of beef stew, with chunks of carrots, zucchini and summer squash swimming in broth alongside shaved beef.
My friend, meanwhile, loaded her plate with fried rice, crab Rangoon and shrimp tempura. The shrimp were dipped in a coconut batter and deep-fried.
While we munched, a Teppan chef came out to prepare the entrees. Takumi lacks the pageantry of the Tokyo, but we only stayed for lunch. Dinner may be more festive. I opted for the beef, while my friend selected chicken from a list that included salmon and shrimp. The chef prepared the meat on the grill, doling out portions to each patron at the table.
My steak was tender and juicy, and even though I swore I wasn't going to eat everything on my plate, I did.
Takumi Sushi and Hibachi really is Nashua's best-kept lunch secret - at least, it used to be. Now, it may just become South Nashua's hottest lunch destination.
|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 grealh Japanese food north of Boston, according to restaurant manager Motoi Nakanishi.
When he says grealh Japanese food, Nakanishi is referring to food they make themselves, and fish that comes fresh, not frozen.
gWe're not just going to buy it from somebody else, we're going to make it,h 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.