Beef lovers unite at this West Village gem.
One of the first questions you’re asked upon entering Takashi—a restaurant that focuses on yakiniku, Japan’s interpretation of Korean barbecue—is whether you eat beef. It’s smart of them to inquire, because if you don’t, you’ll probably want to leave—most menu items hinge on cattle. Despite the carnivorous focus, the meal is balanced, refined and surprisingly light, thanks to modest portions and impeccably sourced, sustainable beef. A blackboard covered in cartoon sketches wraps the walls, providing cheerful instructions on how to grill your food. Before getting to it, be sure to order small plates from a section of the menu dedicated to raw preparations. We were enthralled with a mound of pristine steak tartare, fine slivers of hand-cut beef dressed with sesame oil and a quail egg. Sushi, meanwhile, was topped with a layer of ground raw chuck flap that was so silken and tender, it could almost be mistaken for tuna belly. When it’s time to get your meat sizzling, the accommodating staff will flip on your table’s electric grill and deliver small dishes of uncooked cuts, like buttery skirt steak and well-marbled tongue, each seasoned with your choice of salt, garlic, sesame oil, or marinated in a secret sauce. Adventurous diners will be excited to discover a selection of organs, ranging from milky sweetbreads to beefy heart, along with two of the ruminant’s four stomach chambers (the “first” is mild and delicate, the “fourth” flavor-packed but chewy). A stunning side plate of vegetables, including sesame leaves, lettuces, miniature radishes and scallion flowers, provides a vibrant counterpoint to the grilled items. The sole dessert, vanilla-flecked soft serve with Japanese toppings (like sweet azuki beans), is a lighthearted touch. Some might complain that for the price, you can get a heftier steak elsewhere, but you might just as easily argue that Takashi is perfect for the progressive meat eater: high on quality and low on quantity