I can’t remember any restaurant taking as much time between announcing it would be moving into a new space and the actual move as Tako Cheena did. It was in July of 2015 that I first told you the popular fusion concept would take over the former Forbidden City Chinese restaurant space just a few doors away from its original Mills 50 location. Even the recently opened Delaney’s Tavern only took three years, and it included building a boutique hotel on top of the restaurant.
I suppose Kobe Japanese Steak House is still the “any minute now” champion – it has entered its second decade with a sign on the property where Barney’s Steak & Seafood once stood announcing that it is “coming soon.”
But anyway, Tako Cheena.
I can’t imagine what took it so long, although I can only guess what the Forbidden City kitchen looked like. Luckily TC was able to continue serving at the storefront space where it opened in 2011. Then, it was a new venture of Pom Moongauklang, whose Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria was a recent hit.
Moongauklang is no longer involved in Tako Cheena; Edgardo Guzman is the owner.
The concept is the same. Tacos are meant to be the forte here but the deliberate misspelling should indicate they aren’t traditional Mexican or even Tex-Mex tacos. The Cheena points to an Asian influence, so what you get are tacos, or takos, if you will, fused with Asian flavors.
I’m not sure what it says that the best thing I had on my recent visit was a burrito. And it wasn’t even spelled bohreeto. I chose the Korean Burrito only because the African Inspired Braised Beef wasn’t available.
The KB featured bulgogi, the marinated beef, mixed with fried rice tinged with chopped kimchi, beans, peas, a shot of sriracha to heat it up and come cilantro to cool it down. It was all shoved into a massive flour tortilla creating a dense package of good eating.
The three takos I had in a sampler were fine, but they didn’t reach the level of satisfaction that the burrito did.
I chose Mary’s Greek Little Lamb (above center), the Pernil Asado (right) and the Char Siu BBQ Pork Belly. The pork belly was the favorite among the three, probably because it had plenty of wonderfully fatty meat under the red cabbage.
The Greek features basic gyro meat, topped with chopped tomatoes.
The pernil was roasted pulled pork topped with daikon and cotijo cheese. All three were served in corn tortillas, although you do have the choice of flour tortillas. (Don’t choose flour.)
The new digs are perfect for Tako Cheena’s personality, which I’ve always assumed was youthful and funky and trending toward deranged.
There seems to be a painting of a heart freshly ripped from someone’s body next to the entrance, which is subtly marked. Inside, the decor is early psychedelic with bright reds, neon greens and a floor that looks like it’s been tie-dyed.
Orders are placed at a window behind which you may find a rather surly young man. He’ll take your money and hand you a table sign so that someone can find you when your order is ready.
Thankfully, the food arrives faster than four years.
Tako Cheena is at 948 N. Mills Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, including late nights. Note that alcohol is not sold but BYOB is permitted. The phone number is 407-757-0626.