Savours and aromas of the Land of the Rising Sun in the heart of Zagreb
Takenoko (in Japanese, tender bamboo shoots), is the first Japanese restaurant in Zagreb but also in Croatia, and a well-known name to all the city's hedonists. At this very place we took our first baby steps in the world of sushi, found out what tempura means and learned about the Asian fusion cuisine. Today, the city's competition in the field of Asian cuisine has increased, but Takenoko has kept its almost honorary status. Although it went through several major management changes, it managed to keep its quality standards; this is the reason why this beautiful restaurant is crowded with people even today, after twenty years of being in business.
Located in the heart of the city, on the very edge of the pedestrian zone and with two glass walls for a unique view of the city bustle, this restaurant is also known for its pleasant, refined designer interior, in dark colours and a combination of wood, stone and fine fabrics. It evokes the atmosphere of Japan, but in a modern cosmopolitan style. And with just enough street noise, it remains intimate and cozy.
What is served
Takenoko is a contemporary urban Asian fusion restaurant with a strong accent on Japanese cuisine. The choice of basic cold side dishes includes several salads such as Horenso Gomaae, a delicious spinach salad with sesame paste, Edamame Salad with boiled savoury or spicy soybeans or Kaiso Seaweed Salad. The cold appetizers include Kakuni tuna, a mixed fish tartar, and a fusion option of several types of ceviche with just about everything, from sea bass and octopus to duck or steak. If you happen to be a purist, you can choose among several types of sashimi with a choice of eight types of fish and a whole range of sushi in nigiri, maki or uramaki form. In the hot segment, there is the inevitable tempura, followed by a selection of vegetarian, fish or meat wok dishes, as well as several standard options of fish and meat fillets, such as sea bass in a banana leaf or Japanese beef steak. For the sweet finish, Japan and popular flavours come together once again – which is why the Takenoko gingerbread or the interpretation of mochi filled with ice cream are so interesting, as well as some Western choices such as chocolate ganache or lemon sorbet.
The selection of drinks is vast, with many options that go along clean, light and precise flavours of Japanese food. The selection of beer and whiskey, including some Japanese brands, is wide enough, a selection of cocktails is also available, and the wine list is dominated by an enviable amount of champagne, sparkling wine and white wines from Croatia and the world.
What our chefs had
As nigiri lovers, but also big fans of liver dishes, we couldn't resist nigiri with tuna and foie gras. The rice was fluffy and served at room temperature, surrounded by Nitsume sauce and layered with a nice, red piece of tuna with a small shiny piece of goose liver on top of it, which contributed with its character to the overall flavour in just the right way. We also had the Takenoko tartare of salmon, sea bass and scallops, immerged in a plate full of fragrant cold sauce made from Peruvian aji amarillo peppers. We continued with a spicy Thai soup with a nice prawn aroma. Next came gyoza with vegetables and chicken, balanced, carefully cooked al dente and nicely browned. We finished with the iconic mochi – a rice dessert, today made in countless versions. Ours came in the form of three balls filled with mango and passion fruit, and vanilla and pistachio ice creams. We accompanied everything with a nice sake poured open, in this case a deceptively drinkable but strong Tokubetsu Honjozo, which turned out to be a great preparation for a Saturday's night out:)