Since 2000, Taiko, located on the north wing of Outer Banks Mall, has served exceptional Japanese cuisine to sushi lovers and those who appreciate an interesting Asian twist to vegetarian, seafood, meat, noodles and rice dishes.
Under new ownership in 2012, the restaurant 's goal is "to continue to provide the best sushi on the Outer Banks." Table service at this small restaurant is prompt and pleasant, and the décor is uncluttered and tasteful.
In addition to full sushi, rolls and sashimi menus, Taiko offers favorites like miso soup, avocado salad, edamame, spring rolls, fried tofu and baby octopus. Main dishes include various stir fried noodles or rice; and chicken; pork; shrimp, eel and other seafood, or tofu combinations, teriyaki or hibachi style. A children's menu, and beer, wine and dessert are also available.
Q & A with Tommy and Ting, owners of Taiko Japanese Restaurant & Poke Box restaurant in Nags Head share their secrets of success in these tough times for the industry.
Outer Banks Visitors Guide: Poke means "to slice or cut into pieces" in Hawaiian while Taiko simply means "drum" in Japanese. What two words best define your two restaurants?
Tommy & Ting: Fresh and Simple
OBVG: Early on in 2020, you decided to focus on takeout and curbside pick-up only. As of this printing, you have opted to continue offering only takeout. What led to this decision?
T&T: Space at both of our restaurants is limited. But, more importantly, we have gone this route to protect the health of our customers, staff and family members.
OBVG: What percentage of your restaurants' orders are placed online, versus by walk-in or phone?
T&T: We still get call-in orders and even occasional walk-ins at Taiko. Here online orders contribute to around 50% of the restaurant's business. Poke Box has about 60% online transactions versus walk-in and phone. We recognize a strong trend towards placing orders online and ultimately it streamlines things. So, we encourage this over phone or in-person ordering.
OBVG: We hear Tommy rolls the best sushi in town over at Taiko. In only its second year, what makes Poke Box stand alone among Outer Banks restaurants?
T&T: It's the only restaurant of its kind on the Outer Banks, offering a new dimension to traditional poke cuisine by adding cooked proteins to include chicken, shrimp and steak. It's the area's tastiest and most healthy choice for people on the go.
OBVG: Name the most popular dishes from your two establishments.
T&T: At Taiko it's the Honolulu Roll. Of course, sushi isn't for everyone. So, our second most popular dish must be Hibachi Chicken. For Poke Box, this is a tougher question because customers select from an extensive list of ingredients. Therefore, each bowl is created a little bit differently depending on preference. One popular favorite is our Signature Sauce, a traditional taste of Poke that has a rich blend of sweet, salty, spicy and citrusy.
OBVG: Recent national surveys show curbside pick-up is here to stay. Consumers and restaurateurs alike have adjusted to this new form of meet and greet, within the confines of parking lots. How has the response been from customers utilizing your curbside pick-up service?
T&T: Overall, we are receiving incredibly good reviews from the public. Perhaps the most gratifying comments relayed, both at curbside and in-person, are how happy folks are that we're still in business. So many long-time customers have echoed this and it really makes it all worth it for us.
Please note: The restaurant is closed for two hours from 3:00pm-5:00pm between lunch and dinner. Open 6 days a week, year-round. Closed Sundays. Hibachi items are cooked in the kitchen.
-Interview by Jeff Donohue
*Off-season hours may vary*
Closed between 3pm and 5pm Daily
Call 252-449-8895 for current hours.