Takashi Yakiniku, NYC
Chef: Takashi Inoue
Cuisine: Japanese, yakiniku
Neighborhood: West Village
Price: $70-100 per person including drinks, tax, tip
Address: 456 Hudson Street, NYC 10014
Phone: (212) 414-2929
Hours: Mon – Thur 6-11pm, Fri – Sat 5:30pm – midnight, Sun 5 – 10:30pm
Takashi Yakiniku is a blessing sent from the gods, assuming your deities are strictly beef carnivores. I first was introduced to this restaurant through a Japanese client, and since then have brought many Japanese and non-Japanese patrons alike. Everyone I have brought has come away with the same rave reviews I have every time I eat here…which has been almost monthly this year hah. My infatuation with this place is basically déjà vu of what I experienced after discovering Bohemian (another small niche Japanese restaurant that is still one of my top 5 spots in the city).
I fell hard and fast for this shrine to everything beef — from the high quality meats, tender cuts, Takashi’s special marinade, and I was even impressed how well-maintained the table grills were kept. Inevitably, we order multiple rounds of meat to grill at our table and the servers always replace the grill without fail to keep everything nice and clean. Chef Takashi spent months sourcing every cut of meat and ensuring the restaurant has the tastiest meat from sustainably-raised cattle with no antibiotics or hormones. The meat featured at the restaurant include Dickson’s Farmstand in Chelsea Market, Kansas’ Creekstone Farm courtesy of Pat Lafrieda, and Oregon’s Washugyu cows courtesy of Japanese Premium Beef. Many of my friends from Tokyo who have eaten here have stated the quality is very good and comparable to Japanese yakiniku spots; however, the one caveat is that you really can’t compare pure Japanese beef with American beef… real Kobe beef is in a league of its own.
Yakiniku 焼肉, which means “grilled meat” in Japanese, is used broadly to refer to grilled meat dishes in Japanese cuisine. This cooking style is a fairly young cuisine in that it only came to prominence in Japan post-WWII; it was never originally part of traditional Japanese culture. Its exact origins are debated but its generally accepted that it derived from Korean cuisine. Yakiniku draws strong influences from bulgogi and kalbi of Korean barbeque, where meat is marinated and grilled directly over fire. Yakiniku ingredients include familiar cuts like ribeye, short ribs, and loin, as well as some fatty beef belly and beef tongue. For the more adventurous, there is also a whole set of hourumon ingredients, which is the Japanese term for offal a.k.a. “variety meats” a.k.a. the internal organs and entrails. I have always stuck to the more “regular” menu items mainly because I haven’t found anyone to try the first through fourth stomachs with me, but someday I do hope to order the Horumon-Moriawase (chef’s selection of “variety meats”). There are some other very strange items like the Calf’s Brain Cream and Intestine-stuffed Sausage… however, I don’t think that with be on my plate anytime soon.
I adore this place even though every single time my clothes reek for days of that (delicious) grilled meat smell. I always warn my friends to wear something that can be easily washed right away, as otherwise the smell is going to permeate your entire closet. Thankfully, this cozy restaurant is very casual so feel free to wear whatever you deem to be “meat eating clothes.” I am a fan of all the cuts of meat; you can’t go wrong with some short ribs, rib eye, beef belly, and between the ribs action. I also highly recommend the Niku-Uni from the raw menu; it’s raw chuck flap topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi and it’s to die for. The servers are all fantastic and highly knowledgeable about beef so definitely let them walk you through the menu. And make sure not to turn the meat too often as you don’t want to overcook it!
Last points to highlight…
#1 This place serves Kenyan Tusker beer. After our Kenyan safari of drinking nothing but Tusker, I get excited every time I see it on a NYC beer list. Admittedly I was a bit surprised to see Tusker at a Japanese joint, but once I learned that one of the part-owners is Kenyan, it made sense.
#2 The homemade Madagascar vanilla soft serve is i n c r e d i b l e .
Banchan: Cabbage with ginger dressing, Kimchi, pickled Bean Sprouts
Spicy Japanese Cucumber
Yooke: thinly-sliced chuck eye tartare in special sauce
Niku-Uni: chuck flap topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi
Gyutoro-Temaki Sushi: chuck flap hand-rolled sushi
Seasoning choices: (1) salt, garlic and sesame oil or (2) marinated in Takashi’s sauce
Kalbi: Short rib
Nakaochi Kalbi: between the rib
Harami (outside skirt)
Tan-saki, Tan-suji & Tan-moto (The Tongue Experience)
Home-made Madagascar vanilla softserve ice cream
Topping pictured: Kurogama Kinako (black sesame and soybean flour), Salted Caramel, Green Tea