Posts Tagged ‘Taka Restaurant’

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor@Blogfinger.net

A short shtory is a written story that is shorter than the usual short story.  Short shtories  usually appear in groups of 3.  In that respect, it’s like migraine headaches.

The bar at TAKA on Cookman Ave. A. Park. Paul Goldfinger photo 2018. ©



#1   “The Missing Guacamole:”

Eileen once told me that guacamole comes from Guacamala.  But she actually “misspoke.”   We were at La Tapatia, Main Street, A. Park, late, a few nights ago on Fajita Night  (Wednesdays 1/2 price.)

They brought out our dinner which was sizzling. There were tortillas, rice, salad, chips, sour cream, black beans, steak, chicken, dips (red and green)—it smelled great!   We ordered one Dos Equis to share, after we debated how to pronounce that Mexican beer.  And we started to eat, voraciously, and it was delicious, but we soon discovered something meaningful:  no guacamole.

We called the waiter over, and he said, “Oh. I’ll check in the kitchen.”

He returned and said, “The reason we didn’t give you guacamole is that we don’t have any.”

OMG!!!!   Can it be possible; no explanation and no redemption?   But we finished the meal, sans guacamole, and left, venturing out into the heart of darkness in that worrisome neighborhood.  Ho hum. Life isn’t perfect.


#2  “Practicing medicine on Cookman Ave.”:

We were having dinner at an A. Park restaurant on a week day night.  I wasn’t done yet with dinner, however the meter needed money.  I went out on the darkened and empty  street and found my car and my meter.  It was the old system.

As I fussed with the settings and the credit card, I felt a presence behind me.  I thought, “I will get mugged…why am I out here alone?”

But I wheeled around, and standing there was a bedraggled woman, on the older side.  (I figure that anyone older than I is old.)  I noticed her wrist band which looked like the kind you get in a hospital.  I also noticed that she had no visible weapon.  “I could take her, ” thought I.

Then, startlingly, she began to speak, and she started to tell me her medical history. What the hey? How does she know….that I’m a doctor?  She wants medical advice.

And then I knew:  She saw my MD plates.  Whew!  I always feel better when an unknown becomes known. I listened for awhile;   It didn’t sound like she had any urgent medical issue.

“I’m sorry miss, but my dinner is getting cold.”   Uh, no, I didn’t say that.   I told her the truth;  “Sorry, but I am not licensed to practice medicine in NJ  (any more–although I can practice in New York, but this, after all, is NJ).   “Um, you had better call your doctor tomorrow.”


#3  “The center of attention at TAKA.”

It looks like these 3 shtories are about dinner in A. Park.

It was crowded at TAKA the night we went. TAKA is the fabulous Japanese restaurant on Cookman.  We were with my cousin Ernie the Attorney and his wife.  We were led to a table for four in the middle of the big room.  We are usually happy to be at TAKA because it is beautiful and classy, and the food is first rate.  I once interviewed the owner/chef of TAKA–he lived in Ocean Grove when he first opened his first  restaurant in AP.

After arriving at the table, and looking around, I and the others grabbed our chairs to have a seat. Everything was fine until I actually sat down, and then there was a loud, terrible cracking noise: the chair collapsed and I was on the floor.

Everything went silent inside TAKA. I quickly realized that I felt OK, so I stood up and looked around the room: EVERYONE  looking at me.  I looked at them and said, “Do any of you know a good lawyer?”   Ernie kept quiet–he’s a prosecutor and becomes interested if there is a murder.

Then about three TAKA people came to me, including the owner. One of them said, “We have been having  problems lately with our chairs.” The TAKA owner was visibly rattled. I reassured him and looked for the waiter. I was hungry.


OMAR:  “Passage into Midnight.”  from his album Free As A Bird






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Taka, Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo. July, 2019.© click to enlarge.


If you would visit Cookman Avenue on a Saturday night, you would see many college age girls dressed up for bar hopping and fine dining. They might travel with guys, or they might walk about in groups of three or four.

4 little maids from school. Paul Goldfinger photo on the boards in Asbury Park. ©


So here is a song from the Mikado which addresses such a group:





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The new Taka has beautiful street presence.  All photographs by Paul Goldfinger of Blogfinger ©  April, 2015.

The new Taka has beautiful street presence. All photographs by Paul Goldfinger of Blogfinger © April, 2015. Click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

The founder of Taka Restaurant, Takahiro Hirai, was born in Japan, but he used to live in Ocean Grove. He was successful from the start and spent 14 years at his Mattison Avenue location.  We ate there many times, and his glowing reviews were well deserved.  Taka has had spectacular Japanese and Japanese-American cuisine, always with meticulous service in a beautiful setting.  Diners would comment on the wonderful mural along the back wall, and it has been transported to the new location, overlooking the lounge.

Taka was closed when we made these photos, but even with the chairs upside down, the place is gorgeous.

Taka was closed when we made these photos, but even with the chairs upside down, the place is gorgeous.  Blogfinger photo ©

Well now, the restaurant has expanded to a new location at 660 Cookman Avenue at Bond Street, the former location of Synaxis, where they have grown from 75 to 200 seats.  You can easily walk there from the Grove, and it is indeed worth the trip.

We went over there on a weekday afternoon and got a private tour by one of the owners, Bill Kessler. The interior is magnificent. A New York architect did the design and created a magical atmosphere where you can enjoy the gourmet cuisine that brings visitors from all over.

Don't worry about the mural.  They brought it over in panels.

Don’t worry about the mural. They brought it over in panels.  Blogfinger photo ©

Taka derives about 40% of its business from sushi and rolls which are first rate, but the other parts of the menu are so creative that you want to eat the menu.  There are fusion dishes that draw on other cultures and include ingredients that combine Japan with Mexico or France, for example. You can visit their web site and examine the menu.  It would be a good idea to do your homework before going.

Surprisingly, this first rate restaurant has very reasonable prices.  Most of the main dishes seem to range from about $18.00 up to $28.00.  Taka is expecting a large bar scene, because the bar is big and exquisite, and you can eat there.

Despite the aggravations associated with reservations, Taka is taking the lead on offering reservations, even for two.  None is required for lunch, but we went there recently for dinner, and the place was crowded even during a weekday off season. Despite their newfound large size, they have been busy since they opened in January. Taka also is concerned about the parking issues in AP, so they have made some special arrangements which will include valet parking if you wish.

And as for our prior concerns about the culinary future of Asbury Park as a “destination,”  Bill Kessler is bullish on AP. He says that there are some fine new restaurants in town which will enhance the reputation of Asbury as the place to dine, visit and be seen.  I hope they solve their parking problems around town. The city is currently establishing 300 more spaces down by the Carousel building.

TAKA web site link:    TAKA link

RANDY SANDKE.   Bring your melancholy baby to Taka.  Everything will be fine.

ANDREW SISTERS   They love sea food.

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