You, Me and Takumi

The Insider braves the cold for pork belly and pickles, and two Newark spots ring in the new year with big events.

Restaurant Riff: Takumi

A few years back, the ongoing wisecrack at Delaware Today Global Headquarters was that the cluster of eating options at Independence Mall in North Wilmington had become the United Nations of restaurants. You had newly opened Rasa Sayang Malaysian, Nirvana for Indian, the late Flavour of Britain Tea Room, and even the Melting Pot, whose fondue is a Swiss tradition.

The granddaddy of international eating at the time was Utage, Delaware’s first sushi restaurant, which held its corner location in Independence Mall for ages. Utage left in 2008, and in came Takumi. Owned by former Utage chef Hideyuki Okubo, and his wife, Jessie, Takumi does some great sushi, too. Perhaps more interestingly, it also does uber-authentic Chinese cuisine.

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That means some awesomely down-and-dirty (yet surprisingly healthful) delicacies like sliced pork intestine with hot peppers and quick-fried kidney. I opted for braised, tender pork belly (the magical place where bacon comes from), which is guarded here by baby bok choy. Hidden beneath the dome o’ pork is a delicious mound of pickled cabbage. 

Above: Sliced chicken with crispy rice

Having just dug my car out of some snow, I needed something hot-n-spicy (and also nicey). Takumi has spice in spades, and so I went with steamed (more) pork dumplings bobbing in incendiary chili oil. Below: sweet potato sushi rolls.

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The United Nations Independence Mall is just around the corner from my house. I predict many more cravings for pork belly and spicy dumplings this winter.

Wednesday, January 12: Wednesday night is Whiskey Night at Caffé Gelato in Newark. The Caffé will welcome Rob Hutchins, the “ambassador” of Heaven Hill Whiskey, who will talk big game and pour generous tumblers.

The dinner will be speakeasy themed, and guests may or may not have to enter through the back door. Cost is $69 per person. Call Gelato at 738-5811 for reservations. Here’s a glance at the menu:

Bernheim Original Wheat
Kentucky Straight Whiskey

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Rib-eye carpaccio with pickled shallots, baby arugula, cow’s milk romano cheese and smoked paprika oil …
with Evan Williams Single Barrel

Brandy mushroom bisque with maple mascarpone cream, garnished with crispy shiitake mushroom

Winter green salad with smoked oyster dressing, roasted peppers, sweet onion and spiced pecans …
with Elijah 12-year

Espresso granita

Tea-smoked Cornish hen with a local squash purée, braised fennel and natural pan jus …
with Elijah Craig 18-year

Mini roasted banana split with …
Evan Williams Honey

Sunday, January 16: Newark’s Stone Balloon Winehouse is pretty next-level when it comes to locally sourced cuisine. You’ll read all about that in the February issue of Delaware Today. In addition to buying food that’s grown close by, the SBWH staff wants its customers close by, too. Beginning this Sunday and on every Sunday for the indeterminate future, the House will host family-style Sunday supper.

Says the Winehouse: “Join us for a family style dinner every Sunday Night. We’re setting one big table, right next to the kitchen, with lots of food to fill your belly. It will be just like Grandma’s…but imagine Grandma had a team of classically trained chefs to help her out!”

One big table, 20 guests, one low price. Beginning at 5:45 p.m., the plates will be passed (menu below). The cost is just $29 per person, alcohol and gratuity not included. Call the Stone Balloon at 266-8111 to reserve.

-Mixed green salad and house baked bread
-Soup of the day
-Confit suckling pig
-Whole roasted salmon
-Pasta Bolognese
-Roasted potatoes and veggies
-Mac n cheese
-Chocolate mousse and cookies
-Bread pudding

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