By David Minsky
By Nicole Danna
By Sara Ventiera
By Candace West
By Emily Dabau
By Doug Fairall
By Candace West
By Laine Doss
I don't think our experience was rare. When you go to Takeyama — and if you love Japanese food, you must go — take with you exactly as much cash as you can reasonably spend plus whatever restraint you can summon. Ask the chef or the expert waitress for recommendations, and eat slowly. It helps to sip between bites from the square wooden cup of cold sake you've ordered ($18 for the rare dry sake, Hananomai, made in Kenny's hometown). This lacquered cup has been filled precisely to the tippy-top like an infinity pool, so the slightest wobble sends it cascading into the saucer underneath; it's served this way so you can keep an exact tally of what you've drunk (or, even better, how much is being poured — unlike the European wine glass, which is a notoriously inexact vessel of measurement). You empty the saucer back into your cup at the end so you don't miss a molecule.
Remember: Though Kenny keeps threatening to retire, Takeyama will probably still be around next year. You don't need to try every single special on the blackboard tonight, no matter what ecstasies your server is acting out. That Takeyama hand roll all the regulars adore ($5)? It'll be on the menu next week, I promise. Though you'll quite possibly never want to eat stone crab at any other restaurant again, because no claw is quite this luscious, no mustard sauce quite so addictive (made with sake? Miso? Chef's lips are sealed), the crab season runs until mid-May. Pace yourself.
After a couple of practice runs, you might dare ask the chef for omakase. Give him a price range and put your faith in his hands. Depending on your budget, the chef's choice might include beautifully balanced seafood in many guises — sweet against tart, levity against weight. That giant scallop (brought to your table "still breathing" so you can ooooooh over it before it's opened) is of a sweetness so pure, you'll experience the essence of scallop. Kenny does no more than cut it into bite-sized pieces and arrange it back in its shell.
6920 Cypress Road Plantation, FL
Plantation, FL 33317
Don't smoosh your sashimi around in horseradish paste here. You'd be crazy to blot out the fragile essences of oily mackerel or pale, translucent fluke; the unctuous kingfish and cleverly circumspect halibut, all of it painstakingly sourced and flown in from far away just for your pleasure. The striped jack, the little raw shrimps with their strange texture of clear jelly and their crispy, flash-fried tails; the moist wave of hand-cured salmon on its ottoman of rice; or the creamy, deep-sea pudding of uni spilling like an overfed belly over a tight waistband of kelp: They're too good to compromise with even a single drop of soy sauce.
All this fish needs is your undivided attention.