Seattle's been all abuzz over the latest project from Shota Nakajima, chef-owner of Adana on Capitol Hill, (even Food and Wine put it on its list of highly anticipated 2019 openings). So, we checked in with the chef about some hot new details about his forthcoming kushikatsu spot, Taku, which will also call Capitol Hill home at East Pike and Boylston Avenue, next door to Salt and Straw and Redhook Brewlab.

 

"Kushikatsu" You Say?

Kushi means "skewer," while katsu refers to all that which is perfectly breaded and fried. Put them together and you've got Taku's new menu. "Everything's fried," except for some small side dishes (cabbage salad, tofu kimchi, soup) says Nakajima, "I have four fryers and that's pretty much it." Keeping things simple, the chef plans on a paper menu on which diners can choose their kushikatsu, like skewers of asparagus, shitake mushroom, pearl onion, chicken thigh, cheese...all around $2–$5. Then there will be some set bucket options for those nights when you can't choose and just need something fried asap. But if you want to go big? Nakajima's devising something he's dubbed the F*ck It Bucket: 20 to 30 random pieces of fried goods. "I want that on a neon sign." 

And you can't have kushikatsu without sauce. Usually there's one shareable tonkatsu-like sauce for everyone. But Nakajima wants to have five to six sauces, from spicy mayo to ranch. He might even use Redhook Brewlab beer for a staple beer sauce.

The Format 

Nakajima says "the whole concept is [about] bringing Osaka street food to Seattle," namely Shinsekai, a district in Osaka where row upon row of food stalls are open well into wee hours of the morning. So Taku will likewise espouse that late-night, dive-y, "super street-y" vibe. That means staying open until about 2am, or even later for the pick-up window facing East Pike Street. Inside, Taku's interior will be filled with 30 to 40 Japanese lanterns, cushioned sake crates as seating, dark wood surfaces, old movie posters in Japanese like Godzilla and Star Wars—"it's very old school Japanese.... Pull that feeling of Shinsekai as much as possible." In the summer, the retractable window-walls will open to outside for a street stall vibe indeed. No servers, just order at the counter (or from said pick-up window) where there's seating for about 20, and about 10 more seats at communal tables.

Drinks & Dessert 

The bar will serve beer, wine, and cocktails, all of which Nakajima wants to have on tap only and under around $10. The point is to have drinks out lickety-split—no 10-ingredient concoctions here. Simple well drinks? Nope. Go to any other bar on the Hill. Quick, dispensable drinks at Taku only, so, that could be an old-fashioned or a Pimm's Cup or, says Nakajima, "a lot of highballs." I mean, the dude's installing a Suntory Whisky highball machine for god's sake.

On the sweet side ready your brains for this: seasonal Salt and Straw tempura ice cream. Again, per Nakajima, everything is fried. Amen. 

Secret Menu

"I'm going to have secret menu items in Japanese only, so if you know it, you can order it."

"Bathroom Selfies Are Kind of a Big Thing"

The thoughtful design doesn't stop at movie posters and paper lanterns. "I want to make the bathroom fun because bathroom selfies are kind of a big thing." Nakajima's not lying. I make sure to make a stop at the restaurant's loo to see how HGTV-esque it looks in there. The bathroom will be communal—one sink, one big mirror, with separate stalls. Those stalls are where the chef wants use different wallpapers and create an entirely different "vibe": "If I can, different music playing in [the] stalls." 

Stay tuned to Nosh Pit for more updates as we have them. Taku is slated to open in March or April.

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