We have a rule we break all the time. My partner and I are not supposed to talk about food, unless said food can be procured reasonably soon. For example, we are not supposed to remind each other of the pistachio soft serve, only available at Coney Island’s boardwalk. Talking about pistachio soft serve is especially rude in the winter, when the ice cream stand is closed. We can only bring up the pistachio soft serve if we are en route to visit my partner’s mother. She lives in Brighton Beach, within walking distance of Coney Island.
Everything in New York City is within walking distance. But not everything can be reached. Sometimes (actually, quite often) places will close for good. Restaurants in operation for decades will suddenly shutter. It’s a painful reality, but you come to expect these things. You brace yourself for closures, and you comfort yourself with hope. You tell yourself that every death brings a new birth. And mostly, this is true.
You mourn the once-beloved now-empty risotteria, then you embrace the next even-fancier risotteria, and maybe this new risotteria is better than the old one, but that’s not really the point. The point is, you know where to find good risotto.
When my partner and I met, we were working at a tech company in the Financial District. We didn’t want our colleagues to know we were dating, so we walked (separately) to Tribeca for lunch. If you’re not familiar with New York City, the Financial District sits at the bottom of Manhattan, and Tribeca is located just above it. Because many New Yorkers are workaholics, they won’t go far for their lunches. Our colleagues slipped out within a two-block radius for their sandwiches and salads. My partner and I walked north, for about 15 minutes, and we often met at a place called Takahachi Bakery.
I like saying the word Takahachi, but my partner will usually just say “Taka.” The first time we met up at the Japanese bakery, well, that was almost 10 years ago exactly. For the last decade, I have tried to mentally prepare myself for the possible closure of Takahachi, but there’s no way to prepare for such a thing, emotionally. When it happens (and surely, one day, it will), it’s going to hurt. I won’t like it, but I will have to deal with it.
During the pandemic, I haven’t stepped foot in Manhattan. I haven’t been on the subway in a year. I’ve tried not to worry about the possible closures in the city. I don’t want to think about all the places that vanished in the last year. My partner and I are not supposed to talk about food, unless we can procure it reasonably soon. We mostly followed this rule, but then we broke it — because we love talking about food.
So, a few months ago, we talked about Takahachi. And how we wanted the crepe roll filled with matcha cream. We talked about their sandwiches and pastries and cakes. But we didn’t dare talk about the very real possibility that we might never eat there again.
Two years ago, I did a very rude thing. I went to Takahachi by myself, and I took a photo of a strawberry crepe cake. It’s not a glamorous Instagram-worthy photo. Just a snapshot I sent to my partner, so he could see what I was doing. I was being very rude.
Today, I looked up Takahachi Bakery online, and I braced myself. From what I can tell, they’re still alive. I’m feeling hopeful, but I’m not going to say anything to my partner about it. I’m sticking to the rule, for now.
In the back of Takahachi Bakery, there’s a large window where you can watch the pastry chefs at work. Sometimes, you can catch them assembling a crepe cake. Layer, after delicate layer.