At a restaurant, first impressions can resemble seductions. If the mojo is right, you can't wait to come back for more.
And, indeed, an initial afternoon visit to Taku felt like amour. It started with a savory wonton soup afloat with thin-skinned shrimp and pork dumplings. Then, a sushi-sashimi combo with fresh, beautifully cut finfish over ovals of seasoned rice at ideal texture and temperature, as well as impeccable salmon, tuna, yellowtail and fluke sashimi. A salmon-avocado roll married lustrous fish with the thinnest layer of black-and- white sesame seed-flecked rice. Who wouldn't want to rush back to this chic, dark, dramatically lit place for another round?
Dinner began auspiciously enough. First, a well-chilled riesling served in a proper wineglass. And some lovely rolls from the sushi bar. A classic dragon roll of eel, cucumber and avocado did the genre proud. The fancier Nassau roll -- eel with spicy crunchy tuna, avocado and multicolor roe -- came off as both piquant and comforting. For vegetarians: a primo peanut avocado roll.
But then came dishes from the kitchen which proved inconsistent. An appetizer called the "crisp duck roll" turned out to be a characterless brown mixture wrapped in fried dough, the whole cut into three small, flat pieces. An entree of jumbo shrimp Thai curry, requested extra spicy, had fresh nicely cooked shellfish but too many starchy vegetables -- tofu, taro and potatoes prominent -- in the mix, bound up in a thick, bland mustard-colored sauce. It took two tries to get a server to have that dish revved-up, and the result was only a tad spicier than the original. Thai mango chicken, which had a little more kick, still didn't approach Thai restaurant quality.
A fine rendition of vegetable pad thai, on the other hand, was something to return for. So, too, the fragrant, intriguingly spiced wok-glazed ginger chicken. Had these dishes come from another kitchen?
Desserts, brought in from an outside bakery, were non-Asian: Key lime cheesecake in a semi-frozen state. And a moist and boozy tiramisu -- a runaway hit.
One can only hope the restaurant builds upon its considerable hits and fixes its misses.