I had developed an online friendship with Ryan Adams after I discovered his blog Nose to Tail at Home, where, in the absence of god, he’s doing Fergus’s holy work andÂ cooking every recipe. When I read his review of Takashi in New York my first thought was “I have to eat there,” but my second thought was “He was in NYC and didn’t tell me?” My threats of bodily harm should such a thing ever happen again (wisely kept out of the comment thread in the event of future litigation) must have made an impression, because he informed me he would be returning in early November, and would I like to join him at Takashi?
She Who Must Be Obeyed and I formulated a plan for a hit-and-run visit, left He Who Will Not Be Ignored with mother-in-law, and drove into the city for a great meal with exceptional company. Since there were only four of us, we couldn’t sample the menu as extensively as Ryan had previously, but we relied on his judgement to guide us to the good stuff.
We began with niku-uni, fatty chuck flap topped with fresh sea urchin roe and served on top of crispy nori and shiso leaf. It was a perfect two-bite appetizer that I plan on shamelessly stealing for a future dinner party.
Next up was the testicargot, “cow balls escargot style with garlic shiso butter.” They tasted exactly like escargot, and actually improved upon the usual rubbery snail texture.
If those starters weren’t creative enough, we concluded the first round with calf brain cream with blinis and caviar, accompanied by the traditional vodka shots.
Squeeze the brain cream out of the tube onto a blini, top with caviar, and inhale. Even though Mimi, our wonderful server, provided extra blinis, there was still cream left in the tube. Having already established that the leftover garlic shiso butter was fair game for eating, Ryan and I finished off the brains right out of the tube. You didn’t think we’d let it go to waste, did you?
Takashi is a yakiniku restaurant, which means that you cook the meat courses over a grill set into your table. The blackboard-covered walls explain the menu and cooking technique, but it’s pretty simple. Place meat on grill, turn once, dip in sauce, eat. We began with “the tongue experience,” cuts from three different sections of beef tongue (tan-saki, tan-suji & tan-moto).
Once grilled, you can either add some lemon juice or dip in a garlic-sesame oil sauce. The simple preparation emphasizes the differences between the tongue sections.
The chef’s selection (horumon-moriawase) was “first stomach,” “second stomach,” heart, liver, and sweetbreads, all marinated in “Takashi’s sauce.”
I had never tried grilled stomach, which was surprisingly tender.
Just when we thought we were finished, I noticed the Asian-Cajun andouillette, large intestine stuffed with kobe beef sausage. Mimi grilled it at the table and sliced it for us. Look at all that lovely fat!
We were presented with a complimentary dessert of homemade soft-seve vanilla ice cream with “the works”: shiratamaÂ (rice-flour dumplings), kurogoma kinako (black sesame and soybean flour), azuki (sweet beans), goji berry syrup, and gold leaf. It was very refreshing after all that meat, but we didn’t finish it – I had other dessert plans. After having a photo taken to commemorate the occasion (a photo greatly improved by the presence of our better halves), we headed out to our next destination.
After a walk and more conversation we arrived at the dessert location, where a picture is all you need:
There was no way I’d visit downtown NYC and not hit the Momofuku Milk Bar. I had a cookie, chugged down a bottle of cereal milk, and bought more stuff to take home.
It seems that visits to Takashi are frequently followed by murderous threats. When we informed He Who Will Not Be Ignored where we had eaten, he made it very clear to us that our continued survival was contingent on our including him in our next visit.