Known for serving offal, Chef Takashi’s West Village eatery is ideal for adventurous eaters.
Takashi ‘s focus is grilled meats or “yakiniku” (aka Korean-inspired Japanese BBQ) which you grill yourself on an electric grill. Upon entering the restaurant, I was pleased to see that all the patrons coats are taken into a separate closet to prevent them from soaking up the smell of BBQ.
It’s a very small restaurant which only seats 34 – at seven tables and a chef’s counter. Reservations are only accepted for groups of four or more so if you’re a small party, make sure you arrive right when they open. They’re known for long waits!
All the meat dishes here are beef (all sustainably raised and antibiotic & hormone-free). You can be as conservative or as adventurous as you’d like. They have safer cuts of meat like short rib and ribeye but what they’re known for is their extensive selection of odd cuts of meat most people likely have never tried including Achilles tendon, calf’s brain, all four cow stomachs and aorta. Vegetarians will be out of luck…I believe their only non-meat dishes are the edamame and spicy cucumbers.
Before our orders arrived, we were served some complimentary Banchan consisting of kimchi, bean sprouts and a cabbage salad with a miso dressing.
Our first dish was the Yooke – thinly sliced chuck eye tartare in special sauce ($16). The tartare was topped with a raw quail egg yolk and Japanese seaweed strips.
After bringing the dish to our table, our server proceeded to mix it all up. With sesame oil and sesame seeds, it tasted like an Asian steak tartare. An incredibly delicious Asian steak tartare!
Up next was the Niku-Uni – chuck flap topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi ($24) which came with four pieces. After seeing this on Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover”, we knew this was a must-order.
You’re supposed to dip it in a bit of soy sauce and our server explained to us it’s best eaten in one big bite. I found that I didn’t taste too much of the chuck flap as it seemed more like a textural element and personally I would’ve preferred the bite without the shiso leaf since I found it too overpowering. But I’m just not a huge fan of shiso leaves so you may have a different opinion.
Another appetizer we ordered was the Foie Gras Stuffed Mini Kobe Burger – with chocolate BBQ sauce ($20). The “burger” was really just a meatball served in a cast iron pan. After bringing it over to us, our server proceeded to pour the chocolate BBQ sauce into the pan as we watched it bubble.
Yes, it’s a pricey dish for what you get but it was really delicious and packed full of flavour. You could see and taste the chunks of foie gras in the centre of the meatball and surprisingly, the chocolate BBQ sauce wasn’t overpowering. Another delicious dish!
My curiousity got the better of me and we ended up ordering the Testicargot – cow balls escargot-style with garlic shiso butter ($12). The balls had a spongy and slightly chewy texture to them. I didn’t love it or hate it….I’m glad I tried it but I don’t think I’d order it again. I think I’d enjoy them a bit more if they were prepared differently?
The last non-grilling item we ordered was the Stewed Beef Tendon Casserole ($15) which was made with white miso. It consisted of chunks of meat and tendon in a delicious base. It was a rich and hearty dish which was perfect for a cold day. It would’ve paired nicely with a bowl of rice (which you can order here).
Now…onto what we came here for! We started off with the Shio-Tan – grilled tongue ($16). They also have “premium super thick tongue” for $24 and something called the “Tongue Experience” which we initially wanted to order. Unfortunately it was unavailable during our visit.
For all the grilled items, you can either get them seasoned with salt, garlic and sesame oil or marinated in Takashi’s special sauce. For each item we ordered, we went with the server’s recommendation – this one was seasoned with salt/garlic. I also liked that they tell you how long to cook each of the different items to ensure they don’t get overcooked.
While I was disappointed that they didn’t have the “Tongue Experience” today, I still enjoyed the tongue. It just has such a nice bite to it!
We also ordered some Hatsu – grilled heart ($12) which was also seasoned with the salt/garlic mixture. It has an organ-y taste to it which reminded me a little bit of liver. My friends enjoyed it but it wasn’t my favourite cut of meat.
For something a little more mainstream, we ordered the US Kobe Beef Belly ($18). While it was still a fattier cut of meat, it’s not as fatty as pork belly. It reminded me of Korean short ribs…just fattier!
The last item we tried was the Tetchan – grilled large intestines ($12). Our server helped us out with grilling this one. Since there’s so much fat, when it drips down into the grill, it can become enflamed.
The intestines looked pretty big on the plate but they cooked down into really small little pieces. The four of us basically had a bite each. They had a nice bit of char on them and were quite rubbery in texture. Glad I tried it but it’s not something I’d order again.
While Takashi is well known for their grilled meats, it was their appetizers and hot dishes that stood out the most. If you’re thinking of dropping by, get here early (or make a reservation if you’re a group of 4 or more) and be prepared to spend a pretty penny. It ain’t cheap!
At a glance:
• Famous for serving offal which include cow testicles, Achilles tendon, brain
• All meat dishes are from sustainably raised and antibiotic/hormone-free cattle from local New York state farms
• Prices are quite high – plan on spending a lot here
• Small restaurant – only seats 34; reservations taken for groups of 4 or more
• Knowledgeable servers
• Highlights: Yooke, niku-uni, foie gras stuffed burger
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3.5 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars