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Adorable Beef Guts at Takashi

You don't expect a place specializing in raw beef liver and grill-your-own large intestines (not your own large intestines; another animal's) to bring the word "cute" to mind, but Takashi in the West Village does. The walls are wrapped in a cartoon mural that lays out what the restaurant is all about: It's all beef, and you order meat parts that you either grill yourself over electric grills set into your table or eat raw. It's a clean, open space with wide wooden benches and a central kitchen. The chef behind Takashi is a third-gen Korean immigrant born in Japan, and his food pulls from both cultures.

Fresh pickled vegetables included paper-thin fennel slices, okra, cherry tomatoes, pea leaves, cilantro, cucuzza squash, and callaloo. The server also brought over complimentary dishes of kimchee, bean sprout pickles, and cabbage with miso, like a small banchan set. We ordered an appetizer called niku-uni: a nori sheet and shiso leaf topped with a raw slice of chuck flap and a blob of sea urchin. The whole thing was rolled up, dipped in a little soy, and delicious: chewy, salty, creamy, and fatty, with a sharp bite of shiso to cut through it.

The staff was helpful and understanding about our lack of experience grilling "horumon," a.k.a. offal meats. We ordered boneless short ribs seasoned with salt, garlic, and sesame oil, and the chef's selection of horumon, which included stomach, large intestine, sweetbreads, heart, and liver, all marinated in Takashi secret sauce. The server directed us on how to cook the respective parts: Char up the stomach and intestine until they get crispy, go lighter on the heart and liver, and cook the sweetbreads until white. Here are the pronouncements on each meat:

  • Intestine: A favorite—it rendered down to a little strip that tasted like chewy bacon.
  • Stomach: Mega-chewy. Some people at our table liked the flavor but couldn't roll with the texture.
  • Heart: Great-tasting, pretty much like any other piece of beef.
  • Liver: None of us could quite get on board with this one.
  • Sweetbreads: Awesome, with a hint of the sweet/salty marinade coming through.
  • A side of spicy red kimchee and the bakudan—rice balls sprinkled with Korean seaweed and wrapped with pickled sesame leaves—complemented the meat fest. Beef lovers, this is your spot.