How many cuts of beef are most Americans familiar with? Aside from the cuts that make burgers, roasts and chops, I often wonder what happens to the rest of the animal.
On Wikipedia, beef is defined as meat from a bovine. Meat is defined as skeletal muscles and offal. Offal, for those who shy away from this type of flavor and knowledge, is the internal organs of an animal.
At Takashi, beef is presented in its entirety. Further, it’s all presented to your table in its raw guise. Tongue, liver, belly, intestines and the like. For fear of losing all my readers beyond this point, you cans till get the familiar ribeye, short rib, shoulder, etc….
All of this brilliant madness comes from Takashi Inoue, a Japanese chef with family that traces back to Korea. Look closely at the menu and you’ll see traces of both cultures. You can also see it in the design of the restaurant, which feature a Japanese sushi-bar-like chef’s table (with built in grills), and also regular grilling tables you’d expect at Korean restaurants. Most grill-it-yourself restaurants have slippery floors, Takashi solves this problem with an excellent ventilation system that lowers over the grill when you’re cooking.
The restaurant’s design is very simple geometric shapes, which stands in stark contrast to the chalkboard art on the wall. Think Starbucks menu board made bigger, to the point it wraps around the room. Not only does the board show the menu items, it also goes into depth about how each cut, like the fourth stomach, is good for you.
We decided to start the meal with two raw dishes that have everyone talking. The first was the famous sushi-like creation niku-uni, which is uni stacked over raw beef, over a leaf of shiso, and finally over a sheet of Korean seaweed. Four different textures each packing a very different flavor, this is not to be missed.
The other appetizer didn’t disappear quite as quickly as the niku-uni. Namagimo, the “ultra” fresh liver with sesame oil and roasted rock salt, challenged even the bravest of eaters at our table. Looking like a plate of food that should be grilled, we were all tentative with the soft, chewy pieces. If you like liver, this is the great liver flavor in its purest form. If you’re not a fan of liver, even lightly searing it (which some of us did) won’t help you here.
When the waitress brought over the meat, she also provided instructions on how it should be cooked such as “45 seconds” or “50 seconds one side, flip it over and 50 seconds again”. I’ve often wondered how to judge the quality of these grill-it-yourself restaurants, I guess this makes it easier. Pull out your iPhone and launch the clock app, commence grilling.
The premium cuts of beef all taste as you’d except, excellent. You can’t go wrong grilling marbled beef from purveyor Pat LaFrieda. When you order, the lady recommended either marinated beef in Takashi’s special sauce, or a simple application of sesame oil and sea salt. I prefer the latter.
At Takashi, the unique cuts really stand out. I was very impressed by the beef cheeks, and the large intestine was not only fun to grill (watch the fat drip away!), but the end result was chewy and full of flavor. According to the chalk on the wall, it’s good for your skin too.
There’s only one dessert, but it’s a goody. Order the hand made Madagascar vanilla ice cream with “the works”, which is a combination of macha, sticky rice balls, and even a gold leaf. You can order it to share, but it’s best enjoyed alone.
There’re plenty of good Korean barbecue places in the city, and I’m definitely very aware of the overpriced Japanese chain that’s expanding all over NYC. However there’s something about Takashi that’s truly unique, and worth a trip for any discerning carnivore.
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456 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10014