Restaurant review, Takayama, Ipswich: “Authentic Japanese food and great tasting, fresh sushi.”
- Credit: Archant
Dishes at Japanese and Korean restaurant Takayama in Ipswich are a treat for the eyes and the stomach, says Emily Cotton
The first thing I noticed about the food at Takayama, when I visited with my boyfriend one lunch, was just how much of it there was. The menu seemed as if it went on for pages, with so much to choose from. While this probably isn’t a problem for most people, I wasn’t, and still am not, a pro when it comes to Japanese and Korean food, therefore it was initially a little overwhelming. It took me a little while to narrow down my choices, however this was thankfully helped by the menu’s descriptions. For dishes that aren’t self explanatory from their name, a short description underneath of what it is or how it is cooked, is very helpful.
With too much choice, and not enough expertise on my half, we ordered a main dish each, as well as a couple of sides and a beautifully presented Bento box to share. Deep fried squid is a favourite of mine, and this version was up there with some of the best I’ve had. The squid was beautifully crispy on the outside and was dusted with the Japanese spice mixture shichimi, whereas kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of spicy pickled cabbage, and it had a delightful little kick.
For mains I had ordered salmon teriyaki from the grilled section of the menu, while my boyfriend chose tonkatsu, a breaded deep-fried pork cutlet dish, with yaki gyoza from the lunch menu. The tonkatsu was served with steamed rice and salad, as well as three yaki gyoza. These pan-fried dumplings were perfectly cooked, soft and juicy on the inside with a thin crispy underside. The option of either vegetable or chicken and vegetable was also given, which means that when ordered individually, they can be enjoyed by both meat eaters and veggies. I was a little disappointed with the salmon teriyaki dish I ordered however. Similar to the tonkatsu, it was served with boiled rice and salad, but I felt it was a little simple and could have benefitted from a little more flavour or spice. Despite this, it was still enjoyable and it was evident that a lot of attention had gone into the dish’s appearance too.
I knew I wanted to try one of Takayama’s Bento boxes before I’d even sat down. I’d seen photos of the delicately put together dishes on Takayama’s Facebook page and knew one of these would be the best way to try a few authentic tastes in one go. There were three boxes to choose from; we chose option A and along with our mains were brought an attractive box made up of two pieces of sushi – octopus and sea bass nigiri – a seaweed salad, three pieces of salmon sashimi, six avocado rolls and selection of seasonal fruit, including grapes, kiwi and physalis. The box was very well-presented, even down to the smallest of details such as the garnish of carrot, which was cut and shaped as a butterfly.
We asked for all of our food to come out at the same time however there was a little delay between each dish being brought to our table. This is often the case in Asian restaurants when the food is all cooked separately, and as the delay was short – only a three or four minutes between arrival of the sides and the last main – we weren’t too put off by the wait.
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There is a large range of drinks on the menu - soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and of course, the Japanese rice wine sake. I ordered a green tea to enjoy before my meal arrived, and this was presented to me in a gorgeous cast iron pot!
The staff were very friendly and welcoming when we arrived, and were very attentive throughout our whole visit. This continued even when dealing with us and two other tables, which included a table of eight, all at the same time. Two members of waiting staff both asked if everything was okay with our meals, and were polite to offer us a knife and fork instead of our provided chopsticks (we declined and continued to persevere).
The small size of the restaurant means that you’re provided with an intimate dining experience, no matter how busy the restaurant is. The dining area was relaxing and atmospheric, even when the larger party came in, and the authentic interior really adds to this.
The price for some of the main dishes was around 15-20% more than what I would expect to pay for something similar at a chain restaurant. However the food was served to a high-standard, meaning prices weren’t too unjust. The lunch menu was the best value for money, with dishes ranging between £7 and £10.
Location and parking
Only a few minutes walk from Ipswich town centre, the location is ideal for hungry shoppers looking for a bite to eat. There isn’t a car park specifically for the restaurant, however there are a number of public car parks in and around the town centre, which are only a short distance away.
The chicken and vegetable yaki gyoza – I’d be sure to order these as a side if I visited again.
There are limited Japanese/Korean offerings in Ipswich, therefore this authentic restaurant is definitely a positive addition to the foodie scene in Suffolk. The chef seemed to be very knowledgeable about his cuisine and took a lot of pride in his work, putting a lot of care and attention into even the smallest of details. Apart from the one dish I was felt could have offered a little more, I enjoyed my meal at Takayama. I’d never normally choose sushi if it was on a menu, however it was nice to find authentic Japanese food, especially fresh sushi, so close to home.