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Taiko
[closed, no longer in business]

511 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 564-8875


Reviews by the General Public

Sorry to See You go!
Reviewer: G J from Santa Barbara
WE had really begun to like your place as a regular. Consistently friendly, delicious & clean. Happy to make whatever we liked. Adored the late hours, saki specials & moderate prices. Sorry to see you go. Will look for your other locations down South. JB


Illness from Salt
Reviewer: Russell from LA area, CA
The menu looked good, and I liked how the place was decorated. Averagey prices. I had a combo that included yakitori chicken. It's a type of sauce that I expect to be somewhat salty, and I was starving so I ate fast. Hence, I didn't realize until it was too late how horrendously, unnecessarily salty it was. By the time I realized the chicken was going to cause me problems, I had already begun to feel sick. Don't worry...no nasty details here because nothing nasty actually happened, but I felt so ill for the rest of the evening. Ugh.


Best Poki Salad
Reviewer: Jewels from Santa Barbara, CA
Best Poki Salad I've had in town! Excellent presentation! Our order of eel was too sweet, overcooked with too much liquid smoke flavour. The service was okay, 1 order was wrong, but they were trying real hard, we were nicely seated before opening since there was a line out front. Seems a bit unorderly in their procedures. We would definitely go there again, especially since they are a Japanese Restaurant serving "lunch" and late dinners, plus the food is much higher quality than compared to more "Americanized" sushi houses who serve spongy California Rolls. The atmosphere was clean, comfortable and upscale casual with good music. The Saki Specials are excellent! Note to Manager: The window should have a menu as the small Restaurant front is not visible enough through the window reflection and trees, folks can't see your place inside and many interested stopped to look in. As Restauranteurs and Sushi enthusiasts, we know your place could do better! Step back and take a wider look at your systems of operation for service improvement and bend a little in posting your food menu along with the Saki Specials out front. We'd like to see you succeed!


decor and location ok, but the sushi is below par
Reviewer: sophie marie from santa barbara/CA
for a place so close to the ocean you would expect higher quality fish- fairly tasteless and bland. its not terrible but I wouldnt recommend it for sushi


ok dinner
Reviewer: Janice from santa barbara
i must admit that the food was good; however, the service was too slow. We [friends and I] order 3 California rolls to share them with one another but we didnt get them until we were finished eating our dinner. Communication is very difficult with the workers; most of them do not speak english (i dont speak japanese).


I would never go back there
Reviewer: Natalia from Montecito, CA
I expected to have the same service as Taiko in other cities. This place has the worst service. 4 of us were having dinner together, of course. They served dinner for 3 and the fourth dinner was not served until all 3 were done eating. When we complained, we were told that it was our fault for ordering something takes longer than other dishes. The waitress did not understand English well, made mistakes on orders. We asked for vegetables on the side, not in the noodle soup, she charged us for a side order of vegetables. Wrong drinks and all kinds of mess. Fish, I had was very salty and I do not know why people like this place. Food, service and everything was awful. We would never go back there again.


Go to Taiko!!
Reviewer: akiko from Santa Barbara, CA
it is a very very nice restaurant. my favorite dishes are noodles and sesami-tofu. i didn't expect i can eat such real Japanese foods in the US. it is an only restaurant where we can eat real udon and soba in SB! of course, their sushi is also good. people who are working there are so friendly and treat us very well. my experiencce is always positive. if you think you know real japanese food and like it, you must like Taiko!!!!


The Best Sushi
Reviewer: Megan from Santa Barbara, CA
Taiko is my favorite sushi place. It has a convenient location right downtown, great happy hour beer specials, authentic food and great service. Everyone there is so nice and attentive. The restaurant is clean and has a good ambiance. And the sushi is great! Try something new when you go...you'll like it.


GREAT FOOD!!GREAT SERVICE!!CHEAP BEER!!
Reviewer: Self-proclaimed Foodie from Santa Barbara
My boyfriend and I are from Santa Barbara and get tired of the same food...we decided to try Taiko last night and we were amazed at not only how good and reasonably priced the food was, but also how the staff really catered to us. I would definitely recommend this place for anyone who wants an intimate and beautiful setting and delicious japanese food. Also the $1.oo beers are unbeatable here in Santa Barbara!!!


BEST RESTAURANT IN SANTA BARBARA!!
Reviewer: La from jakarta, ind
nice people. very delicious foo. comfy place. i went to taiko everyday when i was in santa barbara. loves it!


Real Japanese food
Reviewer: Japanese guy from Santa Barbara CA
Believe or not Taiko is the only real japanese food in S.B. If you order Omakase (chef's choice), you can taste the real food that you can only find at HQ restaurant in Japan. Most of japanese chefs in S.B. don't have any experience in Japan and don't know basic of japanese food, hence the sushi is terrible. They don't know how to arrange it for american people. Then result is so bad even for Japanese. Taiko's chef was trained at one of the most famous restaurants in Japan. You would better to order Omakase,and say make it like they do for japanese customers.


Good food.....
Reviewer: Spinelli from Santa Barbara
I went there for lunch today and had a Bento Box which was very reasonably priced at $12. It had tempura, salad, teriyaki chicken, miso soup, tofu goma-ae, spicy tuna rolls and snapper sashimi. It was very filling and tasted good. the service was good too; server, busser and manager were all attentive. I will definately be back.


Eh.

I´ve only eaten here once, and while it is a pretty restaurant, the food is seriously mediocre--not great cuts or preparation and the service is unmemorable.


Authentic food

As a SB local, I can vouch for this excellent restaurant. On any given night, the clientele is comprised largely of Japanese patrons -- a true test of an "authentic" restaurant. For "fun" sushi you can hit the spots that are popular with the college kids, but for quality fish, this is the place to be! Still my favorite on any night is the Seafood Nabayaki.


Neo Sushi Fusion Style

I guess I´m a bit picky since I love Japanese food and have been eating it since I was little... here´s my review. The place is clean, nicely set up, and the food is fresh. Overall, the food was OK, a bit more expensive for the modern sushi flair, I usually eat Japanese quite a bit and have had sushi from new fusion style chefs and the food at Taiko was nothing special if rated with these. I was actually somewhat disappointed with my dish, a bit minty (they put mint leaves in alot of their dishes). But it was clean and healthy, service was moderate, though prices were a bit high for the serving. I´m more of a traditional Japanese sushi eater, nigiri and tempura will do me right. There are places in SB that are excellent, but if you want a modern flair to sushi, Taiko is the place in Santa Barbara. If in Westlake you have your choice to two fusion sushi restaurants that really take sushi and fuse it with modern cuisine and two traditional sushi and noodle houses in the ventura county that are excellent.


Not very good
Reviewer: asian guy in san diego from San Diego, CA
We walked in, and the waitress seemed annoyed with me right off the bat. The wine was good. The sushi was ok, but a little pricey. The rolls were ok, but one of them was still frozen, and I ended up getting sick later. All in all a nice night, but that was more because of the company I was with and not the food. I probably won´t go back, I will stick to my favorite place in SB (Ahi Sushi) which is a better value and far better food. I don´t know how this place gets high reviews.. probably caucasian tourists..


Objectively.. This place is AMAZING!

The three top sushi places in SB are Arigato, Edomasa & Taiko. Hard to say which is the best. But Taiko is unique. We are talking a much broader spectrum of flavors. If you were to give me a $200 gift certificate to my choice of the three, I´d take Taiko. (The other´s are very good too.)Here are some unique items that you won´t find at the other three: Japanese Eggplant with red and white miso. Sounds plain, tastes incredible. Tofu with seasame sauce and wasabi. Again, sounds plain, but the flavors are amazing. Sunrise roll - plum, shisho (Japanese Basil) and white fish. Delicious! If you are after an adventure of unique flavors perfectly blended and contrasted - taiko is the place. Their sushi is VERY good. You´ve just got other options. Oh yeah, they are famous for their soba and udon dishes.


Truly Authentic

This place is one of the most authentic modern Japanese restaurants I have eaten at in the US. The food is not like the Americanized Japanese food that is so common in the US. If you want to try something much closer to what is served on the other side of the Pacific, try here, you´ll get the same experience without the 11 hour plane ride.


great chef

Original dishes, nice sushi, and great lunch specials. The chef went through rigorous training in Japan and is one of the best.


Fantastic!
Reviewer: Taiko Fan
As a Taiko regular, I obviously love this place. I keep coming back… the depth of the menu is greater than anything around, the quality of the food is succulent and vivid, and the staff has a simple, warm, nice and most definitely – unpretentious - attitude. Although there is no bar, …and I do like bars even though I have had numerous less than fine dining experiences at them, the sushi I have had at Taiko is of excellent quality (though I have not had the Alaskan roll). My favorite sushi bar is probably Nozawas in Studio City and his sushi rice is outstanding; warm, nontraditional soft, and flavorful. And the fish Nozawa gets is stellar, but he "chooses" everything omakase-style for you. Taiko is up there too. Taiko’s sushi rice, aside from some minor variations in firmness and taste that I can overlook, is highly flavorful with a traditional firmness. I have found the albacore, toro, salmon, etc to be of premium stellar cuts on par with any other quality sushi bar. I have not yet encountered one "bad cut" of fish at Taiko, and anticipate that I will never. The staff have, for the most part, worked hard to keep me happy. The balance of rice and delicately cut fish at Taiko is to my liking and savoring the combination of firm and soft textures of the sushi in my mouth gives me a highly pleasant and balanced dining experience. I try to finish off my meal with a bowl of chicken udon or soba. A couple of times, the chicken has been overcooked and dry, the noodles boiled a little too long giving a pasty texture, and the soup a little weak. Most of the time, however, this soup has been better than any I have had in the US or Japan; moreover, I usually take what I can’t finish home to eat for breakfast. It still tastes good reheated. Some of my favorites that I recommend: sesame chicken salad, tuna sashimi salad (the dressing is delectable), steamed veggies with spicy miso sauce, spicy tuna tempura roll (unique), various sushi depending on mood and staff recommendations, the dinner plate combination (a great deal for the $ with chicken teriyaki, tempura, calif roll, and sashimi), salmon teriyaki, noodles, and the handmade sorbet/gelato for desert. I’m a fan of Taiko and I will be back.


Even Texas has better Sushi
Reviewer: oc from Seguin, TX
I dined here once during a short visit to Santa Barbara and had an extremely disappointing experience. The restaurant´s atmosphere was unattractive with its dull green color, and it emitted an air of undeserving pretentiousness. I enjoy eating sushi at the bar where I can look over the cuts of fish. There is no bar here and the fish is hidden somewhere in the back along with the chef. Most likely so the chef can foregoes watching his unimpressed patrons. The edemame was overcooked, which left the bean without the firmness that I expect. The Kake soup was fine, but not enough to entice me to return again. For dinner I ordered an Alaskan roll, which was a roll wrapped in lemon seared salmon. It was not fine. In fact it was horrible, and left a distasteful aftertaste in my mouth that could not be washed down with my beer.. The one thing I did enjoy was the Toro, which arrived as a large cut of fish. Though a wonderful and tasty cut, the fish was outsized by a disproportionate serving of rice that detracted from the overall taste. At best the restaurant is pleasant to look at from the outside, but doesn’t serve a pleasant experience. I may be from a small town in Texas, but I’ve had good sushi from all over. Unfortunately, after traveling to California with hopes of eating good sushi, I chose a horrible restaurant. And yes, I’ve had better sushi in Texas!


Best Japanese food in SB
Reviewer: Yoshi from Goleta CA
I am from Japan and food is excellent. They do not use package sauce or stock like other restaurant in town. If you can not tell the quality, it is your loss. Sushi is OK. But most of the combo lunch or pre fix dinner is at best in Santa Barbara.


not great

really seriously mediocre. service is nice, restaurant is very pretty, but the food is way too expensive for what they are offerring-bad cuts. Lots of much better places in town at much better prices.


“a lot of happiness”

The day I went they had made a clam Miso, which was of excellent quality. Contemporary in décor, the pale green color invites one to feel relax in this environment. For dinner I had the Unagi sushi, which reminded me of my visit to Tokyo last year. Not ever having tired green tea ice cream, I would have to say WOW! For two people the pricing was reasonable for this type of dining experience.


Just Fine

I think the food and service is ok, but not what i really expect. Anyway, everyone has his/her own taste. This restaurant is not my favourite by far.


Great food... Great Variety
Reviewer: ashkan from Santa Barbara, CA
This is the PF Chang´s of Japanese retaurants. Great clean, professional service. Exceptional food. California roll is not stuffed with mayo like some other restaurants. Try the sesame chicken salad and the Triple Eel roll! The Miso is piping hot and comes to the table with a cover over the bowl... Yum!!!


Food that tastes as good as it looks!
Reviewer: Dean from Santa Barbara
If you want to eat quality Japanese food, this is the place for you. I´ve been to their other location in Brentwood, and I think the food at this location tastes even better. Excellent service, great decor and atmosphere. And when the food is brought to you, it looks like it´s out of a magazine. I was thoroughly impressed.


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