Dining Reviews

Taking in Takara

takara1Capitola’s Takara Japanese Restaurant adds more zest to its overall creative flavor

Take some sushi, sashimi, tempura, add some hot wasabi and ginger, sip on a little sake, and you will feel like you’re dining in Tokyo. And this is what Takara Japanese Restaurant likes to convey—an authentic experience in a beautiful restaurant decorated in typical Japanese style. Everything hits the spot in Takara. It’s right on target with quality food, exquisite flavors, courteous service and elegant ambiance.

Takara opened with a huge fanfare in 2000. Owners Angel Yeo and Yuki Chan pulled out all the stops by throwing a grand party to celebrate, complete with the San Francisco Taiko Drummers, a splendid mochi rice-pounding ceremony and a mountain of impressive food for invited guests. When Angel went shopping to decorate the restaurant, she went the distance—to Japan, in fact. She bought stunning antiques, lanterns, rice paper paintings and a special two-sided fabric called noren, which is used as little curtain drops. Even the roof tiles are the real thing and were shipped out from Tokyo. From my own experience of eating in restaurants in Japan, it’s as close as you can get to the real thing.

Takara continues to impress by keeping standards high and quality of their produce top notch. Always wanting to enhance the dining experience for their customers, they recently put in new carpet and added new colored menus with pictures. 

General Manager Emily Yeo says that the restaurant has made quite a few changes recently, including taking down the bar partition so that the bar looks a whole lot bigger now and more open. A daily Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m. has also made Takara into a popular destination stop for regulars, visitors, newcomers, and shoppers at the nearby Capitola Mall complex. Food can also be ordered at the bar, where diners can enjoy a bountiful selection of cocktails, beer and wine. And, thanks to the sake revolution, you can find a wonderful range of this Japanese fermented rice drink.

Head Chef Ruben Del Carmen has 13 years under his belt making culinary wonders at Takara—and all chefs are highly trained by co-owner, Yuki Chan. Del Carmen prepares only the freshest and best quality of fish, never wanting to compromise with a lower grade, even when fish prices went up. It is important to Del Carmen and Takara that every meal prepared meets their high standard.

takara2Takara offers an extensive menu, including meat and vegetarian dishes, and brown rice if preferred. Their featured rolls and popular Chef’s Specials include an assortment of favorites at reasonable prices. Try the Hearty Unagi ($13) with tempura shrimp, avocado and cucumber topped with unagi and sesame seeds, or the Exotic Tuna ($10) with unagi, green onion, tobiko, nuts and tuna wrap. 

“We have our featured rolls, our chef’s specials, which are awesome,” adds Emily. “And also from 3-6 p.m. we have hot and delicious specials coming from the kitchen and also five or six selections from the chef—some hot and some cold, as well as some sushi chef specials.”  And a Takara Feast for $29.99 for two people is a new menu addition.

 “My bartenders didn’t want to be left behind with all the food specials we offer,” says Emily, “so they decided to come up with some specials at the bar.”

As a result, Takara now has an Awesome Double—two for the price of one—a large hot sake, draft beer, house red or house white.  This is available during Happy Hour Sunday through Friday.

“And they went one up from the kitchen,” laughs Emily, “and made the Awesome Double available all day Saturday.” 


Takara Japanese Restaurant, 3775 Capitola Road, Capitola, 464-1818 (in the Capitola Mall complex in front of Sears), takarasushi.com. Open daily from 11:30 a.m.

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