By Spencer Bistricer
Some restaurants sit in my imagination. Though I haven’t dined at it, it isn’t the most luxurious or it isn’t even my favorite cuisine, I still imagine I will love it. Takashi, a celebrated Japanese-Korean barbecue establishment in the West Village, is one of those places. I’ve been dreaming about coming here for years and glad to report that I’ve finally made it happen!
Takashi is the perfect restaurant for a fun night out. The brainchild of Takashi Inoue, a Japanese-Korean who grew up in Osaka, the restaurant is in the style of a yakiniku – an invention by Korean immigrants shortly after World War II in the Kansai region of Japan. Mr. Inoue stands behind the bar, slicing liver or mixing his signature dipping sauce. The meat in question is solely beef; here one can try every exotic cut or offal. Cow stomach, heart, tendon, tongue and even testicles are on offer.
To start, I ordered the bone marrow and crawfish dumplings with Hong Kong style hot peanut oil sauce. Although I think that cooking my own food is fun, it’s probably a good thing the chef handled this one. As someone who eats shellfish regularly, I can attest to the quality of ingredient and originality of flavor. It was a good portent of things to come. The bone marrow and shellfish combination was unique, and the peanut oil sauce added the perfect depth of flavor.
My guest and I also ate raw tripe that was expertly sliced with scallions and a lemon wedge. The cow’s stomach is made up of many folds and has a texture that takes a bit getting used to (but one that is thoroughly enjoyed when served with the spicy miso sauce that comes with it). We also munched on flash-boiled tendons, which were moistened with a brick-red sesame oil and chili sauce. Raw liver’s silkiness contrasted perfectly against the chewiness of the aforementioned dishes. The burgundy colored organ arrives smothered with sesame oil, cut into bite-size pieces and coated with sesame seeds. It slips and slides in your mouth, releasing its mineral richness.
We also ordered the Rosu, or the ribeye, marinated in Takashi’s house sauce. The waiter came by with rice, the meat and an assortment of vegetables. I grilled carrots and peppers with my ribeye, allowing the vegetables to absorb the steak sauce as well. I left the rest of the vegetable raw to eat as a side salad with my meal. The food came out incredibly well. The sauce kept the ribeye juicy and delicious, and the vegetables were crisp and fresh.
Takashi is more than just delicious food; it’s also changing how we think about meat. I will be sure to stop by Takashi again to grill my own food (after it has been expertly marinated by the chef, of course) and have already recommended Takashi to my adventurous friends.
456 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014