by Nancy Stiles
Takaya New Asian (634 Washington Avenue) inside the Mercantile Exchange building downtown has closed. It opened in January 2013 to, um, not-so-great reviews, but it kept plugging along. It seems to be one of -- if not the first -- casualty of the new year.
The news was first reported by the Post-Dispatch's Ian Froeb, who wrote a notorious review of the "New Asian" restaurant in 2013 for the Riverfront Times. Takaya was owned by Erick Heckman and the team behind Tani Sushi Bistro and Area 14 Lounge & Sushi, both in Clayton.
"We visit different cities all the time between Seoul and Tokyo to see what's cutting edge," Heckman told us back in 2013. "Our menu definitely has some Korean influence as well as Chinese influence. We're working on a few Thai dishes now and intend to branch out some more to different regions."
However, when our critic visited a few months later, his barely there calamari fell apart, and that wasn't even the worst of it:
At least I found an explanation for the sea bass. I still can't figure out the squid. Admittedly, that's not entirely Takaya's fault. On a recent episode of the public-radio Zeitgeist prodder This American Life, a reporter obsessively bird-dogged a rumor that (once, maybe) a pork processor somewhere had packaged pig rectums (or, as they're called in the industry, "bung") as "imitation calamari." When the investigation proved fruitless, the reporter resorted to a blind taste test in which he pitted fried calamari against fried bung. One of the two participants preferred the bung.
I was not one of the tasters, and I'm pretty damn sure I've never eaten pig-butt rings à la calamari, but I suspect that in a blind tasting I'd have chosen 'em over the deep-fried squid I ate at Takaya.
Heckman did not immediately respond to messages asking for comment. We probably know why.
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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