Taking heed to the words of Anthony Bourdain once again, we strategically planned a stop at Takashi, a yakiniku (grill it yourself at your table) restaurant in the West Village. We assumed it would be a little pricey, after all, each cut of beef is handpicked from sustainably-raised cattle and is all both antibiotic and hormone-free. Also, many reviews warned that the plates of meat were small, so we expected to have to order a few. This is where our NYC eating strategy came in (you never eat til you’re full in New York unless you are absolutely positive its the last stop you’ll make before bed; I guarantee within 20 minutes you’ll pass something else delicious you wish you’d saved room, or cash, for.)
We knew we’d be waiting at least 45 minutes for a table anyways, and we can’t really afford to fill up on prime cuts of Kobe anyways, so we stopped for hot dogs on the way to dinner. (see previous post) However, front-loading at Gray’s Papaya couldn’t protect us from the tantalizing aromas inside Takashi’s door. Beef and fat and garlic, salt, and pepper, a little raw, a little charred, a little grilled to perfection - it smelled so good!
We sat and were brought complimentary sides of cabbage with peanut dressing, bean sprout salad, and kimchi. We weren’t expecting anything to be handed to us at this NY hot spot and this was a really nice touch.
We looked over the menu (and the prices) and decided that we should be satisfied with 3 dishes of meat to grill, and we could always add on if we were still hungry later. The appetizers and raw dishes were very interesting, but we came here specifically for the yakiniku so we’re saving the Niku-Uni (chuck flap on shiso leaf topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi) for next time.
We picked the beef tongue (Shio-Tan):
beef cheek (Tsurami):
and the beef “between-the-rib” (Nakaochi Kalbi):
The side dishes were quickly forgotten, our Sapporos and water glasses were indistinguishable, nothing but the meat mattered.
The serving sizes actually seemed appropriate - plates of raw beef were $12-24 and from what I could tell you got 5-10 pieces. I would think 1.5 plates per person leaves room to share an appetizer or dessert. When you actually think about the quantity and quality of meat you are consuming, Takashi is really not an expensive restaurant at all. Between the two of us it was about $60 for beers, 3 beefs, and those complimentary sides. I think a group of 4-6 people (the only size party they will take reservations for) is the ideal for this type of meal. That way you can try lots of plates from the menu without breaking the bank or your gastrointestinal system. And the meat is so good. I mean, mind-altering, out-of-body experience, sacrifice your first born … (ok maybe not that last one) good; it’s REALLY GOOD. The smell does stay in your clothes and hair for a little while, but I didn’t mind at all. We met up with my vegan jazz musician uncle later that night and I had to apologize for my beefy perfume, but I just couldn’t bring myself to change my shirt. I held on to the scent like one would cherish a shirt or scarf that still smelled of a lost love. Until we meet again, Takashi. Until we meet again.