Takeyama Japanese Cuisine

The unassuming Takeyama, hidden behind a plain door in a Plantation strip mall like one of those exclusive New York clubs that deliberately fly under the radar, has retained its sense of mystery and drama for almost 30 years. This is the semi-private purview of a regular group of sushi fanatics willing to put themselves in chef Kenny's hands and pay the price. You'll find them arrayed on stools at the sushi bar, moaning gently as Kenny passes them plate after plate. With its sallow lighting, ancient carpet, and worn woods, the place has the underground feel of a seedy spot for fetishists. Indeed, this isn't sushi for lightweights: You've got to take a few risks with your palate, to be willing to consume things that squish, ooze, and crackle in ways not at all familiar, to allow tastes and textures you've never experienced settle into your mind and find a niche. Try the syrupy-dry, high-octane sake imported from Kenny's hometown, or the braised black cod just arrived by plane that day with all the pomp of a celebrity. Oily mackerel, fluke, three varieties of toro, kingfish, halibut, sea eel, stone crab — you're never sure exactly what you'll find on the slightly dingy specials board at the entrance, depending on the season and Kenny's resources. Keep going back and you'll develop a dangerous hankering for giant orange clam, live sea scallop, sweet jellylike shrimp, raw quail egg, strange pudding-like uni, and other bizarre delicacies the chef and his enthusiastic waitress will inevitably foist on you.

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