The smell of stir fry and grilled meats wafts onto the street from Taku Japanese Steak House at 304 Fourth St.
After about a year of construction, the steak house and teppanyaki restaurant quietly opened its doors April 27 to an eager Columbus audience, with a grand opening still in the works.
“There wasn’t this kind of restaurant here yet,” said co-owner and manager Mandy Zhuo, who opened the Columbus restaurant with her brother, Lin.
It’s a new location but not new ground for the family. They own another Taku in Kokomo and operate Hana Japanese Steakhouse in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Taku’s space downtown is divided into smaller rooms, some of which offer intimate seating. As the many landscapes of East Asia vary, so too does the decor.
The interior design incorporates wood, stone, glass and marble, in deep and neutral hues with pops of primary colors peppering the muted tones. Visually striking dividers section off two teppanyaki rooms, each of which feature four grills. In the main bar area, metal hanging lights illuminate high bar tables, surrounded by metal stools with bent-diamond design seats.
The menus, in cased leather bindings, reflect the restaurant’s Asian fusion style.
Appetizers include Taku Rangoon ($6.25), Taku’s version of the crab rangoon; soups; salads; and sushi bar offerings such as the Yellowtail with Jalapeno ($10.95).
The sushi menu features appetizer portions, sushi and sashimi (or raw fish) a la carte, cooked sushi bites, rolls and special rolls. Made of spicy tuna, white fish, avocado, cream cheese with baked scallop and crab, the Dynamite Roll ($7.95) is a popular selection.
Lunch selections include teriyaki served with soup or salad, rice California rolls and shrimp tempura; Shogun Crispy Chicken or 10-piece sashimi lunches.
For dinner, Taku offers bento boxes, Japanese-style fried chicken, Pad Thai, and Thai Curry Chicken.
Among Taku’s shining stars are the teppanyaki — often known as hibachi — tables, where food is prepared in front of patrons by a chef working on grill tables.
Taku’s teppanyaki menu includes chicken, steak and seafood. Most popular, Zhou said, is the chicken and New York strip steak combination.
Having eaten at other sushi restaurants, “this was outstanding,” said Kenan Al-Husseini, who has dined at Taku three times since the restaurant opened.
“I love presentation — presentation is very important to me,” he said. “I think your eyes eat before your mouth and, from that aspect, your eyes are satisfied by the plate.”
Al-Husseini also praised the teppanyaki tables, where the chefs served up the standard dinner-and-entertainment expected of teppanyaki chefs, with well-executed tricks.
“Definitely on the top of the list of teppanyaki I’ve had. Everything was perfectly cooked to order,” he said. “And they’re fast.”
If you have room after main courses, Taku has a small dessert menu that includes tempura-fried ice cream, fried cheesecake and mochi ice cream.
Speaking shortly after its opening, Zhou said she has received consistently good feedback from patrons.
“We are getting busier and busier every day.”