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Dhaka Tribune

Takumi’s handpulled ramens will have you coming back for more

Unlike its competitors, Takumi specializes in serving authentic Japanese cuisine that might not have crossed your palate before

Update : 21 Sep 2023, 06:02 PM

In Dhaka you will find a myriad of places serving ramen these days but we all know that in Japan, a noodle master takes 10 years before they are even allowed to make ramen noodles for the public. Same with the broth. So what we usually get are store bought noodles, and chicken broth cubes beefed up with flavouring.

Not at Takumi however. It’s a Japanese restaurant, run by the Japanese for the Japanese looking for a taste of home. Takumi, meaning artisan, stands out as a hidden gem that deserves your attention.

Takumi MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU (12)

Unlike its competitors, Takumi specializes in serving authentic Japanese cuisine that might not have crossed your palate before, introducing you to culinary delights like Takoyaki, Shiratama Kinako, and Yodare chicken.

These dishes may be unfamiliar to those who haven't had the privilege of dining in Japan or experiencing a homemade Japanese meal through the hospitality of a friend.

Takumi manages to deliver a uniquely wholesome dining experience.

With its dedication to authenticity and commitment to introducing lesser-known Japanese dishes, Takumi is a place where the spirit of Japan's culinary heritage truly comes alive.

Food

While it's not currently listed on the menu, we had the opportunity to savour a delightful culinary creation at this establishment – a spicy special beef Ramen featuring a skilful fusion of chicken and beef thigh pieces, complemented by a half-boiled egg that's been marinated in soy sauce.

This combination results in a remarkable interplay of flavours, with the preserved soy-infused egg providing a subtle sweetness that beautifully contrasts with the savoury and mildly spiced broth. As you indulge in this bowl of ramen, you'll find that it pairs flawlessly with the tender, hand-pulled noodles and the luxuriously rich broth. This dish truly stands out, promising an exceptional ramen experience that surpasses any you've recently encountered.

Takumi MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU (8)

Moving on to their Takoyaki, it offers a distinctive twist on the classic fried octopus balls - a speciality street food from Osaka. Crafted from a blend of octopus and flour, this dish reaches new heights of flavour with the addition of bonito flakes, a type of dried tuna that has undergone a process of simmering, smoking, and fermentation. This unique touch elevates the octopus to an entirely different level.

The bonito flakes give it a new texture and flavour, elevating both aspects. I enjoy the flavour of octopus and am willing to try it in any preparation, provided it is well prepared. If you normally find octopus or squid to be too chewy, these balls will change your mind and make you appreciate them, perhaps for the first time.

Takumi MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU (10)

The deep frying process renders the octopus balls incredibly soft, completely changing their chewy texture.

Next, they serve a chilly and mildly spicy chicken dish called Yodare chicken, which is made with chicken broth, soy sauce, garlic, and bean sprouts. The harmony of flavours achieved by the combination of the mild spice and the capacity to detect the other sauces and the broth is what makes this chicken so irresistible. 

Although their chicken gyoza was stuffed with cooked ground chicken and wrapped in thin steamed dough that complemented their sauces—especially their thread chilli sauce—it didn't particularly stand out among their other dishes or among gyozas in general.

Takumi MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU (9)

We liked their take on chicken teriyaki because it wasn't excessively sweet and had a unique, interesting flavour all its own. The teriyaki sauce used to coat the chicken was subtle yet noticeable, and the chicken itself was cooked to perfection. The effort put into this is admirable.

Desserts don't get much better than the Shiratama Kinako. The idea of washing the rice balls in the blackened syrup that adds a deep flavour and then heavily sprinkling the rice balls with roasted soybean dust before taking a bite is to die for.

The result is eight pieces of chewy mellow rice balls that almost remind you of the texture of lychees without the extra sweetness. The sticky texture and natural flavour of the rice balls are heightened by the syrup, and the dust provides an additional layer of savoury pleasure to each bite.

Takumi MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU (6)

This dish is perfect if you're always on the hunt for savoury sweets but never seem to find them.

However, the kinako is a dessert that steals the spotlight.

The price range for a meal at Takumi is Tk450 and Tk1500.

Ambience

A corner restaurant in Gulshan 2, Takumi exudes a simple elegance thanks to its hardwood furnishings and the matching colour scheme of the walls, doors, and ceilings. The restaurant's warm, inviting atmosphere will make you feel instantly homey.

"Wood is what speaks of Japanese culture the most," said founder Yohei Sasaki.

Challenges

Takumi secured the rental space starting in 2021 but faced challenges that delayed the official opening of their restaurant until 2022. Nevertheless, they managed to kickstart their delivery service during the latter half of 2021 and eventually unveiled their physical dining establishment in 2022.

According to Sasaki, construction delays were the primary reason for the postponed launch in 2021, but they were quick to adapt by initiating delivery services by January 2022.

During their first year of operation, the majority of Takumi's clientele comprised Japanese patrons. However, Sasaki holds aspirations of attracting a more diverse local customer base in the future.

"Right now about 60% of my customer base is Japanese, and 40% is Bangladeshi, I would like more Bangladeshi customers to try the food," he said.

He had to substitute sugar and other meats like chicken and beef for the traditional Japanese ingredients of sake, mirin  (cooking wine), and pork, but he has done his best to maintain the original flavours.

"I've tweaked the recipes for Dhaka just slightly, but kept the flavours as authentic as possible," he added.

Sasaki is well aware of the popularity of sushi in Dhaka, but due to a lack of fresh fish in the city and the exorbitant cost of shipping it from Chittagong, he has decided to focus on other Japanese food instead.

Knowing the popularity of sushi in Dhaka, Sasaki remarked: "If I can't give people fresh fish because of the cost or lack of availability, I'd rather focus on other dishes that I can make and avail as authentically as possible, like Ramen."

Verdict

Among our top picks at Takumi, we have a trio of culinary delights that truly stand out: the tantalizing Takoyaki, the delightful Shiratama Kinako, and the mouthwatering Yodare chicken.

If you find yourself at Takumi, there's one dish that is an absolute must-try, even if you decide to order nothing else – their special spicy beef Ramen.

Takumi emerges as the ultimate destination for those seeking a departure from the usual sushi and ramen fare, offering a delightful journey into the uncharted territories of the Japanese kitchen. What sets Takumi apart, in our opinion, is that it manages to strike a balance between authenticity and affordability, making it one of the more budget-friendly Japanese dining options in Dhaka.

Shiratama Kinako, a savoury dessert that captures our hearts and is sure to captivate your taste buds as well. This dessert presents a unique blend of flavours, and its ability to balance sweet and savoury notes is truly exceptional.

 

Japanese translator: Bithun Mazid

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