Takashi (@takashiNYC) was to be our last dinner in New York City. For the entire trip we were looking forward to this! Compared to all our food adventures up until now, this one would probably be the most unique. The idea is that you cook the meat overtop an infrared grill (reminiscent of Korean barbecue but the Japanese version, yakiniku) and enjoy it fresh. The hōrumon (“discarded goods”) was our target.
As far as I know, this solitary lantern was the only signage outside the restaurant. So discrete!
But then again, as you approach the restaurant, its big windows that allow you to see the hoods and wall murals are dead giveaways! Takashi is quite small and intimate; there are only 34 seats! Getting reservations proved to be a very good idea on our part! (you can do so online so it’s quite convenient as well! Keep in mind that reservations are only for parties of 4 or more)
Sitting at the chef’s counter for a closer look. Not all their offerings are destined for the grill. Some arrive already cooked, and others, meant to be eaten raw.
This is the first panel on the wall that you read. The entire length of the restaurant is lined with these irresistibly cute yet informative panels. You don’t often find such playfulness paired with “serious”, good food?! (did I just put my foot in my mouth there?) You can also find their menu online here!
Everyone’s here to have a great time and Takashi is late everyday for dinner!
The chef, Chef Takashi is Korean, born in Japan and both his heritage and living milieu are clearly big influencers in his cooking style. Here’s the Korean side popping up with these customary “amuses”, bean sprouts, cabbage and kimchi.
Instructions on how to cook your meat! There is specificity required unlike Korean bbq where you’ll see a lot of “dump it all!! RAWRR meat!!!!” action happening around you…and perhaps at your table as well. I may or may not do that myself…but that’s because when we go, it’s usually right after a workout so we’re all ravenous! Needless to say, this ain’t that kind of grilling. (the usual Bourdain humour in line 15)
Niku Uni – chuck flap topped w/ sea urchin and fresh wasabi (24)
As seen on Bourdain’s The Layover, here’s a banging combo of land and sea. It was my first time having uni!! I’ve never seen it mushy like this though…Besides that, it was this odd but perfect medley of flavours in your mouth. Pricey but if you’re here, you might as well give it a try!
Gyutoro-Temaki Sushi – chuck flap hand-rolled sushi (18)
Another raw dish. To assemble, you plop and wrap the beef sushi into the nori, then dip it into the soya sauce. As per usual with raw beef, the flavour is very subtle but the blend is good. It’s definitely harder to fully appreciate flavours that don’t hit you over the head.
A closer look. Each piece is so perfectly formed! The little sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and chive actually do something for the sushi rather than just make it look pretty.
Testicargot – cow balls escargot style w/ garlic shiso butter (12)
Yup. We went there. Or rather, the guys did. On the escargot platter, these balls of…cow look really innocent! And almost delicious? (Don’t judge me!!).
Here goes! Their faces as they were chewing was priceless! A mix of “okay, I have a cow ball in my mouth” and “oh boy I like this…should I say that out loud?”
In the end, they convinced me to try one. It’s like a dense but springy meatball, nothing screams, “I’m a cow ball!!” to you. Slash, they’re not that small right!? I don’t even want to know the details of this. Tried it once, twas pretty good, I’m satisfied to leave it at that.
15 oz MEGA Spare Rib – w/ Asian-Cajun barbecue sauce (50)
This is what made the entire meal for us (so thanks Vickie for spotting this on the menu and ordering it!). Good thing they didn’t entrust us to do the last finishing grilling on this because we’d somehow find a way to mess it up.
So after a couple turns, our server plucked the meat off the bone (I kid you not it SLID off). The four of us were probably so embarrassing right now…salivating over this hunk of meat like we’d never eaten in our lives.
With a ceramic pairing knife, he shredded the rib, sprinkled some thinly sliced scallions atop and their “Asian-Cajun spice mix.” SO GOOD. This was beyond amazing.
The meat:fat ratio was perfect and the juiciness!! Yeah, this dish is a special but it should definitely be on the regular menu. Again, pricey but definitely worth it!
Horumon-Moriawase – chef’s selection: first and fourth stomach, sweetbreads, liver, heart (28)
For $28, we definitely expected more. There were only 3 pieces of each horumon (or offal) and had Vickie wanted to have some, then we would’ve had to order more. We went for the “Takashi sauce” marinade option rather than the simple salt, garlic and sesame oil.
But once again, this was a meal of firsts (first time having uni, cow balls, horumon) so paying a bit more for food you know is good quality can be rationalized. The first stomach was really chewy! Fourth stomach, complete opposite; very fatty(?) and much less rigid in texture. LOVED the sweetbreads! See, the pieces are so tiny!! You can barely appreciate the horumon.
The final damage, including Darian's 3 beers: $170.93.
Verdict: What we loved most was the atmosphere, very light and casual. The heat coming from the grill was pretty substantial though so coming here in the winter would be a great escape from the cold outside. I’d come back for the niku-uni and the spare rib.
Check ‘em out! http://www.takashinyc.com/
4 out of 5 NOMs