Takifugu is part of a shabby strip mall on No. 3 Road, tucked away in Paesano’s old spot with an almost completely obscure entrance. The mall is in need of a renovation or repainting at the very least; it has been an ugly dreary brown for as long as I can remember. Given the less-than-attractive exterior, I was surprised that the interior decor was quite decent, though the place was relatively empty for a Saturday night. The owner and staff were all Chinese which made me slightly doubtful about the quality, but I figured it couldn’t be that bad since KH recommended this place. We ordered the tasting menu for two (和之膳) ($88) which includes quite a bit of food as well as a choice of hot or cold sake. The hot version was thoughtfully served in a hot water bath to keep it warm throughout the meal.
Our tasting menu started with 3 veggie appetizers, all lightly tossed in sauce and very refreshing. Great way to cleanse the palate before the meal!
The assorted sashimi arrived on a bowl of ice with a very impressive display. I honestly did not expect to find a moving lobster head beside my sashimi. I’m sure the restaurant wanted to demonstrate how fresh the lobster was, but I found it rather disconcerting to see the head, the tail and the meat lying in 3 separate piles on the ice, especially with the antenna twitching and the legs clawing away at thin air. Despite that disturbing detail, the fish were all very fresh and tasty. I particularly enjoyed the hamachi and the scallop. Lobster sashimi was a first for me, so I don’t know how good or bad it was. It tasted fresh enough (of course… the head was still moving!), and the texture was remarkably crunchy. I didn’t mind it, but didn’t find it very special.
The cook-it-yourself Angus beef cubes came with a heated hot stone, much like at Stonegrill. The beef wasn't the most tender I've had (think tenderloin), but it was definitely a grade above regular beef. Some pieces were a bit tough though because of tendons in the meat. I'd also like to mention that wooden chopsticks do not like hot stones. Besides why were we given wooden chopsticks to eat a $44/person meal?
The claws from that unfortunate lobster were grilled with just a pinch of salt. One of the claws was much larger than the other one. Well I guess the lobster must have been right-clawed. I couldn't discern much flavour in the meat since there was so little of it.
The moving head and body from earlier were used to make lobster miso soup. This was very tasty and there were even bits of meat left in the shell.
The shrimp and vegetable tempura was nicely fried with thin and crispy batter that wasn't too oily. The shrimps were surprisingly long. I quickly glanced at the seafood tank to see if there were shrimps this size. Nope... I wonder where they came from.
The inaniwa noodles were a nice way to wrap up the tasting menu (aside from the dessert). The soup was clear and mild, but it was still very flavourful.
We each ordered a scallop tobiko temaki ($3) so that we could try the sushi here. But for some reason the temaki wasn't in the shape of a cone. Presentation aside, it wasn't much different from sushi you'd find in any Japanese restaurant. I'd say it was just average and not worth trying for $3 apiece. And it was tiny... maybe about 3 bites. Hey $1/bite!
The tasting menu comes with an order of ice cream per person, but we each got an extra scoop ($2.75) so that we could try both flavours (green tea and black sesame). I liked the green tea more as it was creamier, and the black sesame flavour was not as strong as I had expected.
It was a pleasant meal despite being a bit pricey. Then again with the fresh lobster and Angus beef, $44/person is not unreasonable. Not many people would regularly spend that much on dinner though (and at a restaurant in a shabby mall with wooden chopsticks?), so that might explain why the place was not very busy on a Saturday night.