"hanging out"? that i can do. "grabbing some dinner"? i'm there. "drinks"? i'm a pro at that. but a "date"? that just leaves me baffled.
that having been said, just because i'm "bad" at dates doesn't mean i don't recognize when i'm on a bad date. and i don't think i set my bar too high when it comes to dates. if we're having a good time with minimal awkwardness, then i pretty much consider it a "good" date. is that too high of a standard?
i recently went to Takashi for a dinner blind date. while i may not be a fan of dates, i love that they give me an excuse to eat at new restaurants or restaurants my friends are too poor to go to with me. not that Takashi's expensive per se, it's just not the usual food fare. Takashi hadn't been open that long when i went there, but i'd already read a lot about it's food. it's categorized as a "yakiniku" restaurant, which means barbecuing over a grill. however, it's the type of meat that they serve that really makes it unique. Takashi offers extremely fresh meat because it serves some unusual parts of the cow including offal and tongue. it might sound weird to some of you, but if you come from an asian family, you're probably no stranger to eating those cow parts. when arranging the date, i had offered him the choice of dining at Takashi or Goat Town, which has more traditional fare, and was impressed when he chose Takashi.
unfortunately, that would turn out to be the only thing i would be impressed with. that sounds more foreboding than it's actually meant to be. the date wasn't horrible, it just wasn't really good either. he's clearly a "nice" guy, just a little "boring." he didn't really contribute much in terms of conversation, and in response to my questions/prompts, he tended to give dead-end answers. to give him credit, i'd been pre-warned that he was "a little shy." however, i don't think "shy" should be used as an umbrella for everything. i wouldn't have characterized him as "shy," just "lackluster" maybe? he self-proclaimed that he didn't have many friends, didn't go out (socially) often, and didn't go out to eat (socially) often. hmmm, it's not like i'm an extremely interesting person, but i definitely make sure not to advertise that on a first date. i would at least like my date to think i'm cool, even if they're mistaken.
i always find ordering on a date a little tricky. i never want to assume that my date's going to pay, although, if they don't, i will judge them. as a courtesy to them, i try to defer to what they want to order since they'll (possibly) be footing the bill. when Gohm and i went to Matsumoto's for our 1st date, i let him order to his heart's content (and he did pay for dinner that night). this date was a little different because when i asked him if there was anything that interested him, he had absolutely no opinion. instead, he deferred to me (which is also a nice date tactic). so we "hemmed and hawed" for a bit and then i just bit the bullet and ordered for us.
there were 2 menu items that i knew i wanted to order: the Niku-Uni appetizer and the Tongue Experience. luckily for me, my date was also a big fan of sea urchin so there was no disagreement on the appetizer. the Niku-Uni is sea urchin on top of raw chuck flap and a shiso leaf with some fresh wasabi on the side. OMG. if you're a sea urchin fan then you have to order this. the melt-y sea urchin with the texture of the raw meat and shiso is amazing. the order comes with 4 pieces which is perfect for just 2 ppl.
the Tongue Experience aka Tan-saki, Tan-suji & Tan-moto consists of 3 different parts (front, middle, back) of the cow tongue. i think they provide 3-4 pieces of each part. each part is definitely a different texture and tenderness, if not flavor. i wish i could tell you which was which but i was too mesmerized by the presentation and too busy eating to recall. i think we also ordered a Harami or Kalbi order, which was good too, but nothing special.
kimchi is the "it" food right now. it's served with everything!
in addition to the food we ordered, Takashi also serves some banchan which includes kimchi, soybean sprouts, and a cabbage salad with miso dressing. in order to balance out our meal we also ordered a portion of scallion vinaigrette which is essentially julienned scallions sitting in a tangy vinegar-soy sauce and was perfect to eat on its own or with our bbq-ed meat.
the food at Takashi was the saving grace of my blind date. my only complaint about the restaurant is the drinks menu. it's kind of disjointed: a small selection of sakes, beers, and wine. i thought the wine option was weird. and the beers weren't the usual sapporo or kirin. of the few sakes they had, we got a nice dry hot sake although it was really price-y for the size (their large would be the equivalent of small anywhere else).
although the portions may seem small at first sight, the pace of the serving and the style of eating ends up making you feel really full once you finish your meal. it's the kind of place where, with the right company, you could sit for 3-4 hrs and be perfectly content. mind you, it has to be with the right company.