At Takashi, where diners squirt cow brains out of toothpaste tubes, you might have to wait 4 1/2 hours for a table. New Yorkers love offal more than ever.
To bypass the line, you only need a foursome to score a reservation. Or do as I did: Show up at the West Village eatery before opening. We were seated right away, though it was 5:30 p.m., which is way too early for animal guts, no matter how well prepared.
By 6 o’clock all 34 seats were filled with people searing thin-sliced short ribs over tabletop grills. Here’s an opportunity to use the stopwatch function on your iPhone to monitor cooking times.
There’s a good reason for the crowds: Takashi is virtually unparalleled in its breadth of bovine off-cuts. A cow has four stomachs; this place serves them all.
The Valentine’s Day special was beef heart chili, which tasted pretty much like chili, period.
Takashi advertises an all-beef menu. That’s an exaggeration, though not by much. Foie gras is sometimes served. The duck liver is encased in under-coated meatballs and over- sugared chocolate sauce. The kitchen also sends out complimentary bean sprouts and kimchi to ward off ketosis.
Sayings To Ponder
Japanese-born Korean chef-owner Takashi Inoue, has decorated the walls with culinary musings -- did you know that sesame oil improves liver function? -- and the like.
The sake list boasts dry, floral and fruity flavors, mostly for sub-$30 prices; the best selection is a $16 bottle of shochu, which has the palate-cleansing robustness of vodka at about half the alcohol content.
Sure, there are other Korean and Japanese barbecue restaurants around town. What makes Takashi special are the sustainably-sourced cattle and the electric grilling. The absence of charcoal results in cleaner flavors and easier breathing.
The beef is frequently American Kobe and almost never dry aged, which means fats are silky and the flesh rarely sports gamey aftertastes.
Here’s a guide to the various parts of the cow you’ll have the option of tasting:
Raw liver ($14): Ruminant-style sashimi and not for beginners. It has the gelatinous texture of carnivorous pate de fruits, and powerful muskiness.
Brains ($28): Served in a tube. Evokes bland chicken liver pate. Comes with mushy hackleback caviar and mealy blini.
Large Intestine ($12): Edible rubber bands. No thanks.
Achilles Tendon ($12): The spicy, shredded tissue is chilled into a salad that tastes like plastic wrap.
Non-achilles Tendon ($15): Much softer than the ankle stuff. Takashi turns the connective tissue into a rich, miso- sweetened casserole. Pair with a glass of earthy El Coto rioja ($12) to supersize the wintery warmth.
Second Stomach ($13): Americans euphemistically call this honeycomb tripe. Of all the digestive-tract organs, this is the best for entry-level aficionados. Tastes like wet pet hair, which is precisely the flavor that intestine-lovers like me are looking for.
“The Tongue Experience” ($20): The various parts of the cow tongue, all chewy and delicious, like well-done roast beef. Those who prefer softer tongue can go to Katz’s Deli afterwards.
Testicles ($12): The kitchen douses the orbs with shiso garlic butter. They look like big snails and have the texture of Styrofoam.
Chuck: Takashi gives you a couple of options. It’s best served raw ($16) as a spaghetti-like tartare with sweet sesame oil and umami-packed nori. Raw chuck is also wrapped in shiso ($24) with urchin for a quiet study in botanical, maritime and bovine perfumes. Finally, Takashi serves it as an American-style Kobe steak ($30) for some hearty, hefty, goodness.
Kobe Short Rib ($25): Koreans like this cut flash-seared, but I think it’s much more succulent when braised with red wine. You’re on your own with this one.
Shank ($16): The fall-apart flavors and tenderness of Italian osso buco inside a steamed bun. Required eating.
Kobe Belly ($18): Fat is flavor and because wagyu is so soft, the evanescent fat seems to dissolve on the tongue. It’s Takashi’s best cut.
Kobe Ribeye ($24): Almost as much beefy bliss as the belly, but with a hint less fat and more rare, bloody deliciousness. Needs no more than 30 seconds grilling on each side.
The Bloomberg Questions
Price: Most dishes under $30.
Sound Level: Around 70; quite reasonable.
Date Place: For adventurous foodies, yes.
Inside Tip: Reservations are easy to come by for parties of four or more.
Special feature: Just one dessert: soft-serve ice cream.
Back on My Own Dime: Yes.
Takashi is at 456 Hudson Street. Information: +1-212-414- 2929; http://takashinyc.com.
What the Stars Mean: **** Incomparable food, service, ambience. *** First-class of its kind. ** Good, reliable. * Fair. (No stars) Poor
Sound-Level Chart (in decibels): 51 to 55: Quiet enough to converse sotto voce. 56 to 60: Speak up, please. 61 to 65: Lean in if you want to hear your date. 66 to 70: You’re reading one another’s lips. 71 to 75: Heads turn because you’re yelling. 76 to 85: Ear-splitting din.
(Ryan Sutton writes about New York City restaurants for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.