Competition is pretty fierce in Chatswood for Japanese restaurants with new ones opening left, right and centre all the time. But Takeru is a little different. Tucked away in a little corner in Victoria Plaza, it offers modern Japanese food with strong Western influences – think Japanese-style pasta and pizza, as well as more traditional favourites like ramen and agedashi tofu.
It’s open all day which is great for a late lunch, early dinner or afternoon snack, and prices are very reasonable with most of the dishes under the $15 mark. Today I’m here with a bunch of hungry boys for a late lunch, so as soon as we are seated in the booth we start poking away at the touch screen ordering system (which is the same as the one at Wagaya and Poporo).
The food arrives in no time, and soon the table is filled with dishes that we ordered only minutes earlier. A big dollop of creamy potato sits on a bed of lettuce leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and corn kernels. The potato is mashed roughly so that there are still small chunks of potato, and the mixture is ever so slightly pink from the addition of mentaiko (cod roe).
Something I order every time I come here is the agedashi tofu with soft shell crab. With the dancing bonito flakes, and the crunchy battered soft shell crab sitting loftily above the silky pillows of tofu and soy dashi broth, what’s not to love? One serving comes with two pieces of tofu and one soft shell crab.
The boys are starving so we order up on some carb-laden dishes. The first of these is the wafu spaghetti, which is a creamy pasta dish with scallops and mushrooms, garnished with dried seaweed and toasted sesame seeds. To my surprise, the pasta is cooked really well, and the cream sauce is quite light. A shaker of grated parmesan is also brought to the table along with this dish.
One of my requests was the hotate ebi garlic cha-han (scallop, prawn and garlic fried rice) which I had tried and loved at Wagaya. The rice arrived steaming in a stone pot and we waited a while before digging in to let the rice on the bottom form a nice crispy crust. Unfortunately this never happened, probably because the stone pot wasn’t hot enough which was a bit disappointing. Regardless, it still tasted great, with a nice garlic flavour and a good amount of seafood.
The chicken nanban hiyashi ramen had pieces of fried chicken scattered in a bowl of cold ramen with mayonnaise and nanban sauce, a spicy and sour sauce. This was an interesting dish with the cold ramen being a nice base for the spicy sour flavour of the nanban sauce and the creaminess of the mayonnaise. It was also served with a small side of shredded cabbage.
We were still hungry so we ordered some more pasta. This time we opted for the mentai spaghetti which had the same creamy sauce and mushrooms, but this time it also had the addition of calamari, spicy cod roe and a few slices of okra. The boys had fun playing with the stringy, slimy okra and it reminded me of natto but luckily it didn’t taste like it! (yes, natto is an acquired taste I’m told)
Lastly we ordered ika butter shouyu which was sliced squid on a hot plate with butter and soy, accompanied by a few vegetables just to make it look healthy hehe. I was worried that the squid would be tough and rubbery but to my surprise it was soft and tender, with a nice charring from the hotplate. The squid rings also had a nice flavour from the soy and butter sauce – it was addictive!
Finally we were full and the best part is we left only $15 poorer each! Takeru is a great place to get together with a few friends that won’t break the bank. There’s something for everyone – traditional Japanese food, some interesting fusion dishes and of course there’s a touch screen that everyone loves to play with :)
Shop 10, 369 Victoria Ave
Chatswood NSW 2067
Ph: +61 29412 1203
Open Monday to Sunday, noon – 10pm