It’s 9:30, Friday night. I should have been done with dinner by now. I should have been slightly intoxicated while treating myself to beer pong or Pat Lafrieda’s Meat Men (pre-midnight halal). Unfortunately, I dropped the ball and forgot about making the crucial 6:30 dinner reservation. My friends and I now had to wait until 9:30 to get our hands on the luscious Creekstone Farm beef. Thankfully, Takashi was well worth the long wait and the heavy price tag.
Takashi has recently turned offal into a delightful treat. After the Anthony Bourdain’s stamp of approval on The Layover, Americans are either discovering/truly falling in love with internal organs or they’re just pretending to like everything that Tony and Zimmern put on their plates. Hopefully, it isn’t the latter. It’s definitely nice to see more people venture outside filet mignon and New York strip steaks.
Our table started off dinner with yooke, thinly-sliced chuck-eye tartare in a sauce topped with a raw quail egg yolk. The strands of raw beef are accompanied by Japanese seaweed and a wedge of lemon. It’s remarkable. It’s just a good as the refreshing tartare I had at Danji. The quail egg yolk just binds the aromatic sesame-oiled beef perfectly. Compared to Takashi’s expensive non-grilled items like the Niku-Uni and the Beef Shank, the yooke has big portions and great value. It’s a shame Ben & Jerry’s hasn’t turned this yooke into an ice cream flavor yet. I’d give up my pints of Americone Dream for tubs of this beauty.
The buns were one of the disappointing dishes of the dinner. For the heavy price tag, I expected the beef shank to be more tender and tastier than the pork buns at Momofuku Ssam. Although the combination of the greens, shank, and spicy mayo are a wonderful addition to the menu, for sixteen dollars (for two), I personally think you can make it through dinner without this one. If you do order the buns, make sure to hold onto that bottle of spicy mayo for dear life. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to the side order of white rice ($3).
The Main Event
I have no idea what the fuck Tan-saki, Tan-suji & Tan-moto are. I do know that all three parts of the beef tongue have a fragrant, spicy smell and chewiness comparable to the texture of chicken gizzards. Do not confuse the toughness of the organ with the toughness of an overdone steak. The tongue is subtly leathery, but still easy and fun to gulp down.
The horumon-moriawase consists of the five best organs of the day. On Friday, my friends and I were treated to Sweetbreads, Liver, First Stomach, Second Stomach, and Heart. Get your iPhone timers ready, y’all. You have to enjoy every single piece of meat at its optimal time. The stomachs, liver, and heart take about two minutes to grill on each side. The sweetbreads take about four to five minutes to fully cook through.
The first stomach and second stomach have similar textures and smells as the internal organs that are accompanied with deluxe sets of soondae (Korean blood sausages) at Korean specialty restaurants. The liver takes the fucking cake in terms of wonderful pungency and flavor. After putting a piece of liver in your mouth, you don’t realize it is liver until two seconds later when the smell overwhelms your entire palate. I can’t understand why I love the taste so much, but it’s definitely something I grew up since I was little.
Oh and the beef belly pictured at the top of the blog is one of Takashi’s best cuts. I could have easily downed four portions I I hadn’t ordered anything else. The wagyu is soft and so fatty that it melts in your mouth. I’d say it’s similar to how I felt when I had medium fatty tuna for the first time. I really should have brought a spare change of pants.
As for the kalbi, I’d recommend staying away from it because it’s no different than the cuts of kalbi offered at stereotypical Korean barbecue restaurants on 32nd street.
I don’t know where Homemade Madagascar Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream comes from, but it is a great way to end the meal. Takashi’s vanilla ice cream is thick and creamy as any ice cream should be. The green tea and salted caramel syrup are wonderful because they don’t have the artificial, metallic syrupy tastes that are common in conventional Asian-themed ice cream parlors. They also have goji berry syrup, rice-flour dumplings, and sweet beans if that sort of thing turns you on.
This place is a wonderful addition to West Village. My friend and I joke around about how some farmers jerk off their cows to breed the finest quality Kobe/Wagyu available. Places like Yakiniku Takashi only add to our suspicion. It’s so good.