As usual, full review with all the photos on the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...
Takashi recently launched both a cow platter featuring 16 different cuts which they dubbed "the cow experience" and a limited late night weekend ramen. Doing both the cow platter and the ramen together seemed to me like an outrageous idea perfect for our foodie group, whose last few conquests included all the dim sum at Red Farm UWS http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/931161 and a whole lamb at Resto http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/919465 Unfortunately, we weren't able to get a ramen reservation, and had to settle for the cow platter along with a la carte additions from the menu. In fact, I had a very unsatisfactory experience dealing with the front of house trying to sort out the ramen situation. I'll detail that experience in a reply below, so that it doesn't get in the way of those who are more interested in the food.
THE COW EXPERIENCE (photo courtesy of CHer plumpdumpling
For $30 per person and a minimum of 3 people, the platter comes with 16 different cuts (1 piece per person) arranged on a platter that is the shape of a cow. I don't remember all the cuts, but there was tongue, cheek, shoulder, meat from in between the ribs, oxtail, sweetbreads, heart, liver, skirt steak, short rib, belly, two or three of the cow's four stomachs, and the large intestines. Like all of Takashi's offerings for the grill, you are offered a choice of Takashi's marinade or simple seasoning. Since we had 6 people, we actually had two of these platters, one with the marinade and one without. I don't know if they're willing to do it, but I would highly recommend the marinade for the chewier offal, such as the stomachs and intestines, while the meat and larger organs had cleaner flavors that worked well with simple seasoning.
While the cow platter had 16 cuts, it wasn't quite a complete nose-to-tail cow experience, so we added a few dishes.
CALF'S BRAIN CREAM IN TUBE W/BLINIS AND CAVIAR ($28)
The brain cream was very smooth and a bit mild in flavor. It was basically cream cheese with a very faint mineral beefy taste, and went well with the blinis and caviar. I did wish that it was seasoned more. I often find (in this case as well) dishes in restaurants where the chef assumes the caviar will provide enough salt for the dish but it ends up under-seasoned as a whole.
No whole cow (well, bull) experience would be complete without the balls. The garlic shiso butter was delicious, although I would have preferred a hint of brightness (citrus). The texture was like eating grilled scallop coral, although a bit chewier. I enjoyed this dish quite a bit, although some diners in our group took a pass.
BONE MARROW AND CRAWFISH DUMPLINGS W/HONG KONG STYLE HOT PEANUT OIL SAUCE ($16)
No idea what about the sauce was "Hong Kong style", and I frankly didn't care for these. The crawfish flavor was evident but felt dull as opposed to fresh and sweet. Some of the diners in the group loved these, so it could be a matter of taste. I also thought they were very overpriced at $16 for two meatballs/dumplings.
FOIE GRAS STUFFED MINI KOBE BURGER W/CHOCOLATE BBQ SAUCE($24)
This thing was more like a mini meatball than a mini burger. It was so small I was surprised they actually managed to stuff something in it. The flavors weren't bad, but the chocolate bbq sauce, which they poured all over the "burger", muddled the flavors. If the sauce had been applied sparingly to the foie, and allowed the meat to still stand out for contrast, it would have been much better.
SQUID INK RICE & MISO-MARINATED SWEETBREADS WITH SPICY YUZU AIOLI, SERVED ON A MAGNOLIA LEAF ($20)
This, to me, was by far the best of the small bites/appetizers that we had. The small pieces of sweetbreads had a perfect crunchy chewy creamy texture, while the rice was full of umami from the squid ink. I'd never had squid ink with such short grain rice, but it worked beautifully, all cut with a bit of citrus in the aioli.
US KOBE MARBLED CHUCK-FLAT STEAK (6OZ, $35)
This is probably the best cut of meat that they offer at Takashi, and a must get. The only thing is that they cook it and slice it for you at the table as opposed to letting you cook it yourself.
MEGA SPARE RIB w/ BOURBON-FLAMBEED BARBECUE SAUCE (MARKET PRICE BY WEIGHT)
This was a special that night (they only started the night with three or four ribs) and definitely worth getting if it's available. I don't remember the exact cost, but we ended up with a 300g (bone-included) portion that felt reasonably priced. Just like the chuck-flat steak, they cook and chop it up for you at the table. The bourbon was very noticeable in the sauce, and once again I found the sauce ok but not necessary. At least this one wasn't poured all over the meat like the mini kobe burger.
Although I wasn't thrilled with my reservation experience, I did find service at the table to be quite good. The only issue I had was when we ended up with more calf brain cream than blinis and we asked for two more blinis. They brought them but didn't tell us the supplement cost for them. Not only that, they didn't even itemize them separately on the bill, but instead charged us $30 for the calf's brain cream (it says $28 on the online menu, which I assume is the actual price without extra blini).
It was a good thing that we managed to move up our reservation time a little. Despite the supposed two hour limit, we didn't end up leaving till around 12:30am. I do not recommend going with a group of 6 if you want a full yakiniku experience. You end up with the same grill as you would with 2 or more people, so while 6 people sat comfortably, they weren't all really able to grill their own meat. As far as the cow platter is concerned, it's a great way to try all the cuts they offer without spending too much money. But once you've tried all of them and have your favorites, I would recommend just ordering your favorites on subsequent visits. I found the appetizers/small bites to be very hit or miss, but the good ones were really good.
Overall, I would recommend Takashi to those who want to eat high quality grilled beef offal (either ordered separately or with the cow platter). I would also recommend them if you want high quality local beef for your yakiniku, but it probably works best if you have a small appetite or a big wallet (some of us ended up going to Grom after).
456 Hudson St