leave your inhibitions at the door
I was so excited when I heard that Iron Chef and Top Chef Masters competitor Takashi Yagihashi decided to open his second Slurping Turtle in Ann Arbor. I had been to his Michelin-star fine dining restaurant – Takashi – in Chicago years ago. He then opened the first Slurping Turtle there in late 2011. The restaurant serves Japanese comfort food – noodles, cold and hot tapas, etc. A lot of my friends and even my mom have raved about the Chicago location, but I was never able to make a visit to it happen.
It took several months to build the restaurant in the former Borders Books flagship space. Every time I was downtown, I’d walk by and give the workers the stink-eye for not working fast enough. Then, when it finally opened, I proceeded to wait about a month before going in. Hey, I was busy.
It’s a beautiful space – light, modern – nothing you’d expect from a place with serious, authentic Asian food. As expected, waits can be very long, but we were able to get in easily for lunch when they opened at 11:30 and late on a Sunday night.
Yes, we’ve been there twice in the span of a few weeks. It probably would’ve been more, but we went to Scottsdale in the middle of it.
Here’s what we had…
In one word – absolutely, wholeheartedly, some of the best Asian food I’ve ever eaten. Everything was beautifully presented and perfectly prepared.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. If I were to choose my favorites, I’d say
– the hamachi tacos – I honestly am at a loss for words at how delicious this was. Just order it and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
– the ceviche for the perfect textures and the bright citrus flavors
– the super-rich eggplant would almost make me go vegetarian. Almost.
– the egg shooter… Yes, I know there’s a raw quail egg. But wow, this was fantastic. You take it all in one gulp and break the yolk in your mouth. It was like a perfect custard.
With Slurping Turtle and other somewhat recently-opened venues, I’m really encouraged by the Ann Arbor food scene. Far too many restaurants here are living off reputations that may have been well-earned many years ago, but haven’t done anything exciting since. While others have been cashing in on the farm-to-table craze and locals’ willingness to overspend for “simple, non-pretentious” food. What they got in return was $28 roasted chicken. Hopefully other restaurants will start to give a shit and put out food imaginative enough and well-prepared to justify the high prices we’ve seen here for years.
I’ve always wondered how well the best of the local restaurants would fare in a major food city like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Some wouldn’t make it and others would be average, at best. Without a doubt, Slurping Turtle would easily succeed.
Have you been to Slurping Turtle yet? Either here or in Chicago? Would you do the egg shooter?