456 Hudson St (Morton & Barrow St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 414-2929
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Korean
Area: West Village
Japanese and Korean flavors come alive at Takashi. But this West Village restaurant is quite small. Scoring a table, without a reservation, could easily take an hour or more. Takashi seats just 34 beef lovers at seven tables and the chef's counter, all equipped with built-in grills for some great Korean-style barbecue. Funky vents are pulled down to suck up any smoke. But be careful, these grills are super hot.
All the meat at Takashi is hand-picked for the perfect texture and flavor. It is provided by some of the nation's top beef purveyors, including Kansas' Creekstone Farm courtesy of Pat Lafrieda and Oregon's Washugyu cows from Japanese Premium Beef.
At the center of the restaurant is an open-air kitchen where you will find Chef Takashi preparing and cooking dishes that mirror his Japanese and Korean heritage. We started with Bone Marrow and Crawfish Dumplings ($16). The dumplings sit atop individual beef bones. The server then drizzles a sizzling Hong Kong-style peanut sauce on top. It is one of the most interesting and flavorful dumplings I have ever tasted. Another popular dish are Grandmom's Steamed Beef Shank Buns ($16). Steamed buns arrive with a bowl of slow-cooked beef shank that is ridiculously tender. Diners add a few pieces of meat, along with thin slices of green onions, to the buns for two or three memorable bites. We also tried a house special beef casserole with white miso.
More adventurous eaters might want to seek out some of the "organ" dishes. Calf's Brain Cream ($28) served in a tube is accompanied by blinis and caviar, while a Beef Liver and Kidney Pate arrives on butter toast ($17). Raw meats are also dominant, like Yooke ($16), a thinly-sliced chuck eye tartare with special sauce, and Namagimo ($14) made with ultra-fresh liver, sesame oil and roasted rock salt.
We opted to have our meat grilled. Besides who doesn't love grilling their own meat. We sampled three types of beef: Ribeye ($24), Beef Belly ($18) and Cheek ($12). The beef is cut into thin ribbons and marinated in Takashi's sauce or you can have it with salt, garlic and sesame oil. Each slice is topped with bits of scallion and sesame seeds before it hits the grill for a quick sear. Instructions are given for how long to cook each cut; a minute on each side for the ribeye, just 45 seconds for the cheek. Each cut is more flavorful than the other, although if I had to pick, I'd probably go for the ribeye. Other cuts include Nakaochi Kalbi, the beef between the rib, Shio-Tan or tongue, Shibire (aka sweetbreads), and Hatsu or heart.
Desserts are simple and welcome after a hearty meal. Homemade soft-serve vanilla bean ice cream comes with shot glasses of toppings ranging from fresh strawberry to green tea and salted caramel. Takashi can be a bit pricey for the full experience. Be prepared to spend about $50 per person, but in my opinion it is money well-spent, especially when you leave with happy bellies and happy hearts. Sorry, I think I ate that.
Review By: Thomas Rafael