Takuma – Saturday Night LA

Story by: Maggie Louie

Former head chef of Musha Santa Monica, Takuma Suzuki embarks on his first independent restaurant.


Born in Tokyo, Takuma began cooking Japanese comfort food as a young boy in his mother’s kitchen. He moved to the states at age fifteen and by age nineteen began studying under Tora Fukui, who was the head chef at Musha Torrance. In 2002, Takuma was appointed head chef of the new Santa Monica Musha, where he earned  his tenure, leaving after a twelve year run, in 2014 to open his namesake location Takuma Santa Monica, located at 2627 Wilshire Blvd.

The Cuisine:

Life beyond sushi, that’s something we’ve all become inducted to over the last decade. Don’t be confused, Takuma is not a sushi bar, ramen joint or curry house, but is rather an Izakaya style tavern. Specializing in small dishes, soba noodles, sashimi and so zai, Takuma explains that his food can best be described as healthy Japanese pub food. So what does that mean?

Izakayas are essentially Japanese Pubs – drinking houses with small dishes for snacking while drinking. It literally means “stay sake shop” so traditionally this was a place where you could sit and drink.


Izakaya Dishes are small tapa style plates and offer a wide variety of options. A must try on the mainstay menu at Takuma is the Kakuni or “square-cut simmer”.

” This is one of my mother recipes. when I was young, my mother made this every New Year’s Eve. I remember staying up all night to cook the pork belly” Chef  Takuma told me.

Simmered for eight hours in a broth of greens, onion, ginger, carrot and daikon, this slow-cooked cubed pork belly is a taste of Takuma’s childhood.

Takuma on Health:

” I don’t serve ramen because ramen is not so good for you. It’s important to me to serve good food that is good for the body and easy on the body. My soba noodles are 85% buckwheat and only 15% flower, which is much better for the body. I am allergic to MSG so I don’t use any of that in any of my cooking. I also use very little chicken broth, instead I make bonito broth and kelp broths.”


So Zai literally translated means “veggie dishes prepared with heart/love,” think of these as veggie side-dishes.


Q: What can I get at Takuma?

A: Healthy Izakaya style cuisine: Sashimi, Izakaya plates, Sozai and Soba Noodles.

Q: What can I NOT get at Takuma?

A: Do not try to order: American style sushi rolls, ramen, curry or shabu shabu.

I highly recommend Takum. Perfect for Saturday night, date night or after work sake and munch. Price is very reasonable and the interior has been upgraded to a modern-elegant atmosphere; chic-comfort comes to mind. For now, Takuma is only open for dinner 6pm-11pm Tuesday-Sunday, but plan to add lunch in September.

Takuma Santa Monica is located at 2627 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica, California, former location of Akbar Indian restaurant.

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Takuma Twitter

Phone: (310) 586-7469