Friday, January 25, 2013

Takashi

I love celebrating my friends' birthdays. It's a wonderful excuse to get together and enjoy a very good meal. Some of my friends are outspoken and tell me what they want and where they want to go. While other friends like Mr. Peanut Head, let me do the deciding. I send him a list of restaurants that he might like and he picks. The list usually consists of places I've been wanting to go to as well. Being the organizer of the group has some perks. Anyway, for Mr. Peanut Head's birthday we went to Takashi, a beef centric Japanese restaurant.

I like the idea of Takashi. Serve one kind of  animal and do it well. We had the option of grilling our meats right at the table or ordering cooked to order dishes. We went with a bit of both. As we looked over the menu, the waiter placed some vegetables in front of us. They included soy beans, cabbage, and kimchi. These dishes were essential for keeping a balanced meal with our meat heavy dishes.
We started the meal with a few raw dishes including their Niku-Uni (beef chuck flap with sea urchin $24). This dish has been covered by many people already. And for good reason with the tender raw fatty beef, the briny sea urchin, the fresh shiso leaf, and the crisp seaweed. It was good. Very good. So many flavors and textures played inside my mouth. A great pairing. I would definitely order this again. Hands down.
The Yooke ($16) was also good with chopped beef chuck eye garnished with a raw quail egg, seaweed, and a lemon wedge on the side. The pure beef flavor mixed with a creamy egg yolk. A squeeze of lemon was the final touch yet a necessary one. The citrus rounded it out.
An order of the Spicy Cucumbers ($7) rounded out the appetizers. These were great too. Slighty spicy, nice tang, and very fresh.
And now some of the smaller cooked foods. First Grandmom's Beef Shank buns ($16). The beef was slowly braised until impossibly tender. We placed the meat into the soft buns, added the sauce, and dug in. We were presented with an intense beef and soy sauce flavor slow cooked until almost caramelized. The texture unfortunately was a little too soft. I wish there was more than just the scallions to offset the softness.
Here's a closer look at the completed bun with sauce and all.
And for giggles, we ordered the Testicargot ($12) which are bull testicles served escargot style with garlic shiso butter. The texture was really chewy and rubbery. That wasn't very pleasing. As for flavor, we couldn't taste anything but the garlic shiso. That pretty much was the resounding flavor. I wouldn't order it again. It just didn't do anything for us.
And the last of the smaller dishes, the Mini Hot Pot Shabu Shabu ($16). I didn't know what to expect when I saw this on the menu but it came highly recommended by Ms. Poutine Esquire. She was spot on. The rich and intense beef flavor surrounded this dish from meat to soup. We all really wished we had a bowl of rice to go with it. It was so comforting and so delicious. The deep umani played with our tongues and made our stomachs happy.
And now the main grilling meats. We started with the special meat which was the Mega Spare Rib at 15 ounces ($40). It comes marinated in Asian-Cajun barbecue sauce. It's already cooked but finished off on the grill by your waitress.
She did a fantastic job charring it and then stripping all the meat off the bone. Then it's beautifully presented with scallions on top. The meat was really tender. The gelatinous tissue and fat just melted into the meat making it ever so more rich. The marinade seeped deep into the meat making each and every bite as flavorful as the next.
After all that food, you'd think we would be full by now. Nope. We kept on trucking. We ordered a few meats to grill ourselves starting with the Hatsu (beef heart $12) - a firm piece of meat with a nice chew-...
And Beef Belly ($18) - tender, fatty pieces of beef -...
And Oxtail ($13) - meat, tendons, and fat around a bone that charred and melted when grilled.  All these meats were just fine and very fresh. But they lacked the same punch in flavor that we found in the cooked dishes. We we picked the versions seasoned with just salt, garlic, and sesame oil (as opposed to Takashi's sauce).
The finale to our beef show was the one dessert they offered. An ice cream sundae with Asian toppings ($5 + $10) such as rice flour dumplings, black sesame and soy bean flour, azuki beans, and salted caramel syrup. A sweet ending to a savory meal. We just got one to share and it was enough to satisfy us.
I really enjoyed Takashi. The place may be small but the food and service was excellent. I much preferred the chef prepared cooked foods over the grilled meats. Out of all the meats, I'd pick the raw beef and sea urchin, the mini hot pot, and the special rib again and again. They just stood out much more than anything else. Next time, I would forgo more of the grill yourself meats and opt for finished dishes.

Takashi
456 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 414-2929
takashinyc.com

3 comments:

  1. yum! this place has been on The List for a long time now.

    i have read reviews that were hit or miss, but sounds like you had a great meal.

    uni & beef FTW!

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    Replies
    1. I think if you choose wisely (skip the BBQ, unless you get the giant spare rib) then it'll be a hit.

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  2. Hot damn! What a lot of good delicious looking food. Luuuucky.

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