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Apr 9, 2011 12:58 PM

Takashi – Really Exceptional Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) in the West Village

**For full post and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2011/04/takas...

Takashi is a new Japanese yakiniku restaurant in the West Village. Yakiniku is the Japanese version of Korean BBQ. It is quite similar to Korean BBQ, but generally I find that there tends to be more cuts of meat available at yakiniku restaurants and the marinade tends to be less heavy handed than at Korean BBQ restaurants, but overall you won’t notice huge differences at good places (fyi for comparison sake no place in Manhattan serves really good Korean BBQ).

Takashi specializes in beef and serves no other types of meat. Chef Takashi Inoue is a 3rd generation Korean who was born and raised in Osaka, Japan (Koreans are the largest minority in Japan). I watched an interview with him on their website and he stated that the meat must be very fresh and he takes a lot of time to do the prep work. It is always great to find a chef who takes the time to do things correctly (part of what I absolutely love about great Japanese restaurants). According to their website Takashi features beef from local New York state farms from of Dickson's Farmstand in Chelsea Market, Kansas' Creekstone Farm of Pat Lafrieda, and Oregon's Washugyu cows of Japanese Premium Beef.

The restaurant is quite small with seven small tables with grills in the middle of them and a chef’s counter. The service was decent, but a little disorganized perhaps because it’s a new restaurant.

On to the food:
- Starters: They start the meal off with a trio of a cabbage salad with a ginger ponzu sauce, bean sprouts marinated in sesame oil and crushed sesame and kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage). These were all decent, but not outstanding. I like the cabbage salad the best. 7/10
- Yooke: This is their version of a traditional Korean dish called yook hwe. It consists of thinly-sliced chuck eye tartare in a sauce that I believe had soy sauce, sugar, salt, sesame oil, garlic and perhaps a few other ingredients. The meat is topped with sesame seeds, shredded nori (dried BBQ’d seaweed), quail egg yolk and lemon. The sweet and saltiness of the sauce goes well with the beef. The beef is very good quality, so it has a great clean beef flavor. 7.75/10
- Gyutoro-Temaki Sushi: This is minced raw chuck flap hand-rolled sushi. It looks just like any other sushi with the finely minced beef on top of a small rectangle of rice with sesame seeds and diced green onions sprinkled on top of it. They give you large sheets of nori (BBQ’d seaweed) that you wrap the sushi in and then dip it is soy sauce and wasabi. It was good, but because raw beef is a light in flavor and I felt that the beef was somewhat overpowered by the flavors of the nori and soy sauce. That said you can tell how high quality the beef is as it is really clean tasting. 7.5/10
- Niku-Uni: I was very excited to try this because it looks so great. It is chuck flap topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi on shiso leaf and nori (BBQ’d seaweed). You wrap it all up and then dip it in soy sauce and wasabi. This was very good, the creamy clean flavor of the uni combined with the shiso and nori is a great combination. Because raw beef by itself is fairly light in flavor it almost adds more texture as opposed to flavor, but it works well. 8.25/10
- Shio-Tan: This was cow tongue marinated in sesame oil, salt, pepper and lemon. This was some of the better tongue I’ve ever had; I actually didn’t tell some people what it was since people tend to get squeamish around organ and other odd cuts of meat. Everyone thought this was really good and were even more surprised when I told them what it was. It was clean tasting and tender, it was perfect for the BBQ. 8.5/10
- Rosu: This was ribeye served simply with salt, pepper and lemon. It was a beautiful cut of meat with such nice marbling. This was simple, but really good once it was BBQ’d. It was very tender and had beautiful flavor. 8.75/10
- Hatsu: This was heart marinated in sesame oil, salt, pepper and lemon. I think most people have some misconception of heart as they’ve never tried it. Heart is a muscle and because it is so lean it can actually be somewhat firm to tough depending on whether you cooked it correctly; I think a lot of people think it’s going to be some really weird tasting meat, but that is far from the case. It is light in flavor and has no gaminess or other odd flavor to it. The heart here was really well done. Firm, but tender enough at the same time and really great flavor after it is BBQ’d. I haven’t had hear t this good in a long time. 8.75/10
- Nakaochi Kalbi: This was the meat between the ribs. It was marinated in the Takashi sauce, which was more similar to typical Korean BBQ marinade. The meat is fatty, so it is very tender and flavorful. They serve it with a light semi-sweet soy sauce that was great because while it had a good flavor it did not overpower the meat, so you could still taste the meat and not just the sauce. Overall, I liked it, but it didn’t show case the quality of the beef quite as well as some of the other cuts although it was still very good. 8/10 (it is the meat on the left side of the plate in the picture
)- Harami: This was the outside skirt steak. This was a nice cut of meat marinated in the Takashi sauce. The meat has enough fat that made it quite tender and flavorful, but wasn’t overly fatty so it had a good balance. This was perfect for grilling. 8.5/10 (it is the meat on the right side of the plate in the picture)
- Beef Belly: This was a special that night and was marinated in the Takashi sauce. It was quite fatty, but I like fatty meats, so it hit the spot for me. 8.5/10 (it is the meat on the left side of the plate in the picture)
- Kalbi: This was short rib that was really beautifully marbled, probably the prettiest piece of kalbi I’ve ever seen. It was marinated in the Takashi sauce. I don’t know what to say about it other than it was really good. 8.75/10 (it is the meat on the right side of the plate in the picture)

I was really surprised at the quality of the meat here, everything was really great. I think this is one of the better meals I’ve had in NY in a quite a while. I want to come back to try more of their offal dishes as I just didn’t have enough stomach room to try anymore. I highly recommend coming here as soon as you can.

456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

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  1. I agree, Lau. Takashi is excellent and shockingly under the radar. Informative writeup.

    5 Replies
    1. re: michelleats

      yah its weird, ive heard very little about it although it does have alot of reviews on yelp, its a really excellent restaurant im surprised it doesnt have more buzz

      1. re: Lau

        There is a pretty extensive chapter about it in Anthony Bourdain's book Medium Raw—he eats there with David Chang, so I would think that most people tried it because of that.

        Great review!

        1. re: loratliff

          thanks!....oh really? ive never read any of his books, that is interesting

        2. re: Lau

          Appreciate your report. Takashi's been on my list for a while. The Times gave it a star last June, and the touring Chow squad had a nice time there last summer ... http://www.chow.com/food-news/52309/a...

          1. re: squid kun

            interesting, i never saw this, i tend to always miss the stuff that's not on the boards for some reason. its def worth checking out

      2. I'm surprised at the amount of marination and saucing as Japanese yakiniku typically is meant to leave that up to the diner- especially if it is finer quality meat....Any word about sashimi? I understand they do beef heart, liver, and possibly other sashimi preparations.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay

          well i think you'd actually find the marination quite light handed as generally its much more about the quality of the meat here than the marination. although be fair when i go to the better yakiniku places in LA the marination / seasoning is almost non-existent

          i really wanted to do the liver sashmi and some of the others as i like that stuff, but i simply didn't have enough stomach space, i will try it next time...we should go here sometime

          1. re: Silverjay

            Actually, the style of yakiniku at Takashi is pretty much consistent with the style I've had at horumon-yaki shops in Hiroshima. I'm assuming that the style at Takashi is similar to what you'll find in the Kansai region as well. I've been to Takashi shortly after it opened with group of Japanese expats (including a chef) and agree that it's a great addition to the NYC food scene, but it exceeds my price/value criteria, as I can get a much better meal at a fraction of the price at Takashi on my frequent trips to Japan (okay, I'm actually IN Japan now), that it hasn't been worth a second visit for me. By the time you're feeling filled up, it'll probably cost as much as an omakase meal at a good sushi shop. So proceed with that expectation. Takashi is driven by a dedicated chef and for NYC, offers something unique.

            I should note that while Takashi calls itself a yakiniku-ya, it really touts itself as a horumon-yaki shop (an offal grill joint, if you will). I describe this kind of shop in detail here:
            So it's definitely worth trying the offal dishes, rather than just staying with the "orthodox" cuts of meat.

            For Japanese readers, chef Takashi also has quite a following on his blog (which predates his restaurant) for his flamboyant take on NYC culture. While his demeanor behind the counter is strictly business, he really seems to light up when approached by his blog fans.

            1. re: E Eto

              I'd say that after factoring in the cost of a plane ticket to Japan, Takashi is infinitely cheaper. ;)

              (Sorry, but I hate that argument of 'I can get better for cheaper elsewhere...' when elsewhere is thousands of miles away.)

              1. re: E Eto

                you are correct in that they do bill themselves as more of a horumon restaurant than a regular yakiniku restauant and i actually would've ordered alot more offal, but i didn't want to freak anyone out that i was with at the time, so i stuck to the tongue and heart b/c i figured that would be an easier intro than going to liver sashmi or something like that, which i definitely would've ordered on my own if you gave me carte blanche to order freely

                as far as price goes, you are also correct that it is definitely not cheap although i wouldn't go as far as saying that "it'll probably cost as much as an omakase meal at a good sushi shop", we spent $90 / person, but we drank quite a lot of alcohol. I'd say realistically you're looking at $60-70 / person with tax and tip if you don't drink, which is much lower than omakase at any decent sushi place in the city (then you're looking at $90-150 depending on where you go, how much you order etc)

                i also envy you for being in japan although i'm sure there is alot of stuff i wouldn't bother getting in NY if i was going there all the time...my grandma showed me a clip on some japanese show about unagi specialists in japan and i have dreams about eating there b/c she was saying how much better it is there (unagi is one of my all time favorite things ever)

                1. re: Lau

                  You're probably correct in the $60-70 assessment without drinks. However, that's about how much we paid per person, then we went for pizza because none of us were really that full.

                  Yeah, unagi. You just won't find that kind of excellent unagi anywhere else except Japan, and probably Taiwan. Thanks for reminding me that I need to get my fix of eel here, most likely in the form of anago (a Hiroshima specialty).

            2. Tried this on Lau's recommendation last night. Short wait for 2 (30 minutes) and we were seated at the bar. The restaurant smells amazing when you first come in!

              Had the complimentary cabbage salad, bean sprouts, and kimchi -- I thought these were pretty good. We also ordered the red red kimchi. Spicy! My husband inhaled this in about one minute. I liked it but it was too hot for me.

              We then had the Yooke (chuck eye tartare) which was really good. High quality, tender beef, really flavorful. It was almost like I didn't want to swallow each bite in order to savor the meat. Delicious! We had also the fresh vegetables with red miso mayo which was tasty but not really that special -- a very spicy chile pepper, two kinds of lettuce, cabbage, Japanese cucumber, carrots. The cucumber was the only thing that stood out. I might get the spicy cucumber salad instead next time.

              We wanted the "tongue experience" but they were out, so our server steered us to the thin tongue which was really wonderful and tender and not too chewy. Also ordered the kalbi (short rib) and beef belly special. Delicious! Really high quality, flavorful meat for both, and absolutely gorgeous marbling. The beef belly was especially lovely and fatty.

              Total came to $130 with two glasses of wine before tip. We probably over ordered a bit given the complimentary dishes, tartare, red red kimchi, mixed vegetables and three grill dishes. A bit of a splurge, too, but I was stuffed by the end.

              8 Replies
              1. re: kathryn

                glad you enjoyed! i really like the quality of the meat, its really a notch above other japanese or korean bbq in the city

                1. re: kathryn

                  Went back again and had a delicious meal. No wait for 2 at 7:45pm.

                  Loved the spicy cucumber salad with Japanese cucumbers and a little bit of heat. Sweet, crispy, crunchy. Red red kimchi again for my husband. Ordered for the grill: liver (good but we may have overcooked it), sweetbreads (delicious and so tender), beef belly (so fatty and good), kalbi (absolutely gorgeous piece of meat). Can't wait to go back.

                  $140 before tip for 2 people and 4 glasses of wine.

                    1. re: Lau

                      The big secret about this place was that is used to be closed on Mondays. Then they opened on Mondays and no one knew and it was easy to get seats.

                      How anyone goes there and does not have the liver sashimi is beyond me. That is why you go to a place like this.

                      This is a very special place, unique in NYC.

                      1. re: sushiman

                        The menu is huge, though. I don't recall seeing that item on the menu but they were offering heart sashimi that night.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          its on the menu, i wanted to order it, but the people i was with would not have been happy about that, so i didnt order it

                          1. re: Lau

                            They have an objection to certain parts of dead animals? ;-)

                            1. re: sushiman

                              haha no its b/c its offal and its raw those two things will immediately scare away 85% of the people i know

                2. We went back again, like clockwork, a few days ago. Everything was excellent. Crispy and spicy Japanese cucumber. Namagimo (ultra-fresh liver with sesame oil and roasted rock salt) had a great flavor and great sauce, but I wasn't 100% keen on the texture of raw liver, though my husband LOVED it.

                  We got our usual grill items of kalbi and beef belly (I hope this finds its way to the menu though it's been a daily special the times we've been here). Fatty, flavorful, and I think I love the Takashi sauce. So delicious, so meaty. We tried the first stomach, really interesting and texture-wise reminded me of octopus, but in a good way. First stomach has ridges! Who knew!?

                  However, the new star of the night was the cheek! Basically... like beef face bacon (similar to jowl bacon from a pig maybe?). Thin strips of deliciousness that curled, tantalizingly as they grilled. Really, really wonderful.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    ohhh beef cheek, i love beef cheek. i need to go back to takashi soon and i agree with you that the takashi sauce is pretty awesome

                    i like namagimo, but i could see how alot of people might be somewhat thrown off by the texture

                    1. re: Lau

                      Beef belly + beef cheeks + kalbi = perfect meal. So good!

                      1. re: Lau

                        If you go and they have a US Kobe chuck prime roll sukiyaki special--get it! Started by charring scallions on the grill. Then two very large and thin pieces of beef. Cooked and dipped into a raw and beaten egg. Stunning!

                          1. re: kathryn

                            I was inside Takashi, twice. I saw the food, smelled the food. Even smelled from the food. Both times 1 1/2 hour wait. I left both times. If i am hungry I want to eat within 15 minutes. The food looked ok, i was not amazed by what I saw, but I will try it.
                            I ended up at Hakata tonton, which was very good and very reasonable.

                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                              just make a reservation, you should be fine then

                              its worth trying out, i think its excellent

                              1. re: Lau

                                thanks Lau, i didn't think they took reservations. But it is very hard for me to make reservations, i never know when I will be ready for dinner, based on work hours, or times friends are around to join me. And I usually like to eat what I am in the mood for at that moment. I am pretty spontaneous. Sometimes I eat where I find a parking spot. The only reservations I make a reservation for special occasions like birthdays and such. But those are mostly at what I would consider better restaurants. The last 3 birthdays were at 15 East, Modern, Jean Georges, le Bernadin. Next week is a birthday, I am not sure where yet, most likely it will be 15 East. I have been lucky as I have eaten in so many restaurants with no reservations. Some are because the people know me. Since if I like a place, I quickly become a regular. I won't give up , i will try Takashi, at early and late times., i trust your opinion on good restaurants.

                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                  yah i mean if ure against making a reservation then if you just come in on the early side you'll be fine, ive walked in before, but it was pretty early

                                  its not upscale like most of the restaurants you mentioned, but honestly i'd prefer to eat here then most haute cuisine type restaurants, which i certainly enjoy but i find their food less satisfying han this type of meal (although i'd prefer a great sushi meal to almost anything)

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    I thought they only took reservations for 4 or more people?

                                    Lau, have you been since they were on Anthony Bourdain's The Layover? It's been insane how long the waits have gotten, even on a weeknight.

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      actually you're right, i just checked the website, they only take reservations for 4-6 people tables

                                      no i haven't gone since The Layover episode (although i've been meaning to go). I can totally see that happening b/c people love bourdain's show (i think he does a pretty good job on the layover, his coverage of singapore and HK was like spot on)

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Went last night (a Tuesday) around 7:30pm and the wait wasn't bad at all (20-30 minutes). I guess the crowds have died down.

                      2. Bad news: no more sukiyaki
                        Good news: it has been replaced with something even better!

                        The new special is US Kobe marbled chuck flat steak (actually I think it's technically Washugyu beef?). A 6 oz portion for $30. They said it was from Lindsey Farms in Oregon, who I looked up later, and they supply and feed cattle for Super Prime Beef, which ships a ton of it to Europe and Japan as well as some of the best restaurants in the country:


                        And the meat? Incredibly beautiful piece of meat. Marinated in garlic and sesame oil. Grilled tableside for you by one of the servers, then rested, and sliced on a wooden board. Served with fresh lemon, wasabi, and soy sauce. One of the best pieces of meat I've ever eaten.

                        The testicargot were good but I'm not sure I'd get them again. Testicles served in shiso garlic butter, like snails on a snail plate. As usual we loved the kalbi and yooke and wished for stomach space for more.

                        Also: they are adding a kobe beef sausage soon, as well as a foie gras stuffed kobe beef hamburger with chocolate sauce, served with a fried egg. The server said that Chef Takashi wants to mix up the menu a lot more now.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: kathryn

                          ohhh man, i need to go back here soon!

                          1. re: kathryn

                            The chuck flat steak was our favorite when we went, and the new appetizers sound very intriguing. We went a couple of months ago, but I haven't had time to report on it.

                            As usual, full review and photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

                            One thing to note. They do not take reservations for groups smaller than 4 people. They also called to confirm my reservation 3 hours before my scheduled time, which I feel is a rather useless endeavor. I originally made a reservation for 4 people, but one of them ended up not being able to make it. So I gave them a courtesy call just before we headed out to let them know we would only be 3, and the person on the phone tried to cancel my reservation because we no longer had four people. After explaining to them, rather forcefully, my views on such a policy, they acquiesced and honored our reservation.

                            Once we got there, everything was fine. The food was very good, and definitely interesting. They offered a choice of simple seasonings or a marinated preparation for each menu choice, and we deferred to their recommendations.

                            A simple selection of banchan featured cabbage, soybeans, and kimchi. These were quite good and we asked for seconds. They actually cost $2 each, which I didn't find out till the bill arrived.

                            NAMAGIMO (ultra-fresh liver with sesame oil and roasted rock salt
                            )We started with a couple of selections from the raw part of their menu. The liver definitely had a mineral tang to it, and it became more evident in the aftertaste on the way down. I imagine that some of the aftertaste was already muted by how fresh this raw liver was. The texture was similar to that of fluke sashimi.

                            NIKU-UNI (chuck flap topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi)
                            We had been looking forward to this interesting combination, but were very disappointed. The piece of raw beef, while looking well-marbled, was devoid of flavor, and the shiso leaf pretty much dominated everything. I would think that this would have been much better if the beef was given a quick sear and if we had only eaten half or less of the shiso leaf.

                            This was a tasty combination of rendered fat with a noticeable but not overpowering hint of truffle oil. The crostini and greens provided a nice crunchy texture and balance to the warm and satisfying richness.

                            TAN-SAKI, TAN-SUJI, & TAN-MOTO (the tongue experience)
                            The tongue experience featured the front of the tongue, the back of the tongue, and the underlying connective sinew. I found most of the flavors to be similar, and felt that texture was the only real noticeable difference between the parts. As it turns out, the three of us each preferred a different part of the tongue.

                            Oxtails are usually slow-cooked to break them down. They sliced the pieces pretty thin, but the meat was still rather tough, and it felt like I was gnawing at the bone part of grilled galbi (Korean barbecue shortrib). There's really not much meat, and it was mostly bone. I did not feel that this was the best way to enjoy oxtail.

                            U.S. KOBE MARBLED CHUCK-FLAT STEAK (6oz)
                            This was one of their specials of the night, and the only cut we strongly considered ordering seconds of. They would not let us cook this piece ourselves, and one of the servers grilled it for us at the table. This was probably one of the best pieces of US Kobe beef I've ever had. Well marbled with flavor and slowly melting with every bite. Sliced and pulled off the grill to each of our preferred doneness.

                            BEEF BELLY
                            The belly was as rich with fat and flavor as expected. It was, however, much tougher than say, pork belly, and offered quite a good chew. Probably one of the reasons they had to score the flesh.

                            TSURAMI (cheek)
                            After having eaten so much beef at this point, it was hard to detect any subtle nuances between cuts. All I can say is that this was very beefy, and the thin slices were a welcome relief from the bigger chunks we'd been eating till that point.

                            SHIBIRE (sweetbreads)
                            These were absolutely wonderful on the grill. A nicely charred surface gave way to soft, creamy innards. The cleanness of the flavor highlighted the freshness of the ingredient.

                            MINO (first stomach)
                            Not the typical stomach one associates with tripe, the flesh charred into a somewhat hard exterior and was very, very chewy. Honestly, that's all I can remember about this cut. Lots of chewing.

                            Home-made Madagascar vanilla softserve ice cream with azuki beans and green tea syrup. This was good, but it felt out of place for the meal. It wasn't rich and indulgently satisfying like all the previous courses of meat, but it wasn't a light ending that counteracted all that unctuousness either.

                            I'm pretty sure we also ordered the fourth stomach and the between-the-rib meat as well. But I have no recollection or photographs of those cuts. Honestly, after a few courses of meat, it all begins to blur together. Which is kind of the point. Takashi is a great place where both timid and adventurous eaters can come together, fall into a blissful meat coma, and marvel at the interesting cuts of offal on offer.

                            456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

                            1. re: fooder

                              How difficult is it these days to get a rez on a weekday (Monday)? Since it's been featured on Bourdain's blog and new show "The Layover", I can only assume that the hype-loving NYers as well as food lovers from all over the country are all over this place now.

                              1. re: linguafood

                                It's not a large place, so it depends how many people you are. I think they only have 3 tables for four.

                                We walked in last Monday around 7:30pm and were seated immediately at the last free table (2 top); after that, there appeared to be a significant wait. Lots of parties of two waiting.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Depends. We may be 2, 3 or 4 :-)

                                  I'll get in touch with our city posse promptly!

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    I cannot believe I've never seen Takashi restaurant. I've been to En numerous times. I'm on Hudson St everyday. I must try the food there. Thanks for the info on this place. And the price based on what Kathryn paid if that $130 was for 2, is about half of what 15 East, kano yama, etc are So this week, I'll be there. My week is booking up fast with all these recs.

                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                      its very good you should def try

                                2. re: fooder

                                  Went Friday night. Hour wait. Wonderful tongue in cheek atmosphere so I had the Tongue Experience followed by the cheek. Finished with belly. For apps, the schmaltz crostini was inspired, the yooke beat most Korean restaurants given the meat quality and the niku-uni was awesome. I still prefer Tori Shin (which is yakitori) but this is fantastic.