Get some “Tongue Action” at Takashi

takashi logo

By Debra Liu

At Takashi, it’s really all about the cow. Every…Single…Part…of the cow. It’s essentially a ‘Meat Mecca’ for meat lovers. Located in the West Village, Takashi is a Yakiniku-horumon (translation: grilled guts) restaurant known for an eclectic menu ranging from cow testicles to brain cream.

testicargot
Testicargot

“You can go to any Korean or Japanese grill and have red meat, but the main purpose of coming to Takashi is to have the offal,” says Chef Joseph Duong, sous chef at Takashi. They specialize in serving only cow meat. There is no other animal on the menu, so if you want to eat chicken, you’re still going to get beef.

Ok, let’s talk about this offal business. Ready? To give you a small taste of what’s offered, Takashi’s creative and interesting menu includes dishes such as Squid Ink Rice & Miso-Marinated Sweetbreads, Calf’s Brain Cream (in tube) served with caviar, Fois Gras Stuffed Mini Kobe Burger, and Testicargot (escargot style cow balls made with garlic shiso butter). And of course, you get to grill your own meat as well. There’s a selection of three tongue meats (also called the tongue experience), various parts of the stomach, intestines, heart and liver.

“Tetchan, which is the large intestine; the inside is like white clouds. When you grill it up, it shrinks down into a little marshmallow and it’s so smooth when you bite into it, you don’t even feel like you’re eating the large intestine,” describes Duong.

For the offal-averse, they do offer some more traditional fare such as Kalbi (Korean style marinated short rib), Rosu (ribeye), Grandmom’s Steamed Beef Shank Buns, and small plates such as edamame, spicy Japanese cucumber and kimchi.

Uni
Niku-Uni (chuck flap topped with sea urchin)

According to Duong, the must-have food at Takashi is the Yooke. “What I can probably eat all day is the Yooke, which is the steak tartare with the quail egg, nori, and Takashi’s special sauce,” he says. The most popular items are the Yooke and the Niku-Uni (chuck flap with sea urchin).

People really enjoy the Takashi experience. According to Duong, “The reactions are amazing. Most people who think about offal…it’s disgusting and all that, but when they taste it, it’s out of their minds.”

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new, definitely go to Takashi. Who knows, you might even become a religious offal eater!

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Restaurants and Health Inspectors: The Great Kimchi Debate

City health inspections have been notoriously harsh on restaurants with rules about food safety, often citing them for mere technicalities. This issue has been seen increasingly in Korean restaurants, where restaurant owners claim that health inspectors do not understand the traditional preparation processes of kimchi, a staple food in Korean cuisine.

Duck Hyang restaurant in Queens recently got five violation points for the way they store kimchi, leaving it at room temperature and above the Department of Health’s 41-degree temperature requirement for cold foods. The kimchi was not labeled, so inspectors could not tell how long it has been out of cold storage. These points now hold even more weight since restaurants must now publicly post the letter grade they have received which corresponds to their inspection scores. Kimchi is classified as a potentially hazardous prepared cold food, and thus it must be stored at a temperature below 41 degrees.

Restaurant owners claim that the health inspectors don’t understand what kimchi is. According to the health commissioner’s office, Korean restaurants do not get penalized during the fermentation process of the kimchi, but after it’s made it must be handled under department specifications that cold, potentially hazardous food cannot be kept out for longer than six hours or in temperature above 70 degrees.

However those in the restaurant industry make the argument that kimchi should not be classified as a potentially hazardous food at all.

“The problem is kimchi is not supposed to be a hazardous food because the kimchi has acidity below 4.6,” said Chongwon K. Cho, a sanitation consultant for restaurants who earlier worked for the health department.

This issue was first raised by Korean groups in a forum in Flushing in late October, as they questioned Mayor Bloomberg about the situation. Ms. Cho has followed up by submitting 90 samples of different types of kimchi to a lab, which will be submitted to the health department. The purpose of this test is to determine that kimchi has an acidity level of below 4.6. The health department has already said restaurant operators can prove that the pH level of their kimchi is below 4.6 to avoid the time and temperature rules, but restaurant owners remain dubious about whether they would have the time or means of using a pH meter to perform acidity tests.

After the Flushing forum, health inspectors declared as a rule of thumb they would not cite kimchi for violations. However many Korean restaurants are still receiving violations, and Ja-Boon Kwak, owner of Kang Suh restaurant and chairwoman of the Committee for the Globalization of Korean Food said, “Traditionally-prepared kimchi has been a staple of Korean food for thousands of years and has proven to have many health benefits. By fining restaurants for the way kimchi—and other fermented foods are prepared, the Health Department is essentially forcing us to dissolve and ancient practice that is at the core of Korean cuisine.”

The Health Department has faced similar objections to the way Chinese restaurants hang ducks and even how pizza parlors prepare their slices. Though they have been loosening up their rules, they still require all food to be closely monitored and temperatures recorded when left out. With restaurants under pressure from so many fronts, the Health Department needs to allow some degree of leniency in how they hand out violations. Particularly now that letter grades must be posted on the doors of these establishments, the government must make it a priority to help these restaurants out, and prevent even more of them from closing their doors permanently.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Kimchi Taco Truck, A New Take on Korean Fusion

The Kimchi Taco Truck stops in midtown for lunch during weekdays, and offers yet another take on the increasingly popular Korean fusion food genre. As one of the few food trucks still around midtown, we decided to check it out to see what all the buzz was about. That, and the mouthwatering photos the truck posted to it’s twitter. The truck offers a variety of tacos, “kim” cheese steaks, burrito bowls, and authentic Korean sides like spicy rice cakes. We opted to try the most notable menu item, the Kimchi taco. The menu was pricier than we’d hoped, but for $7 we got three kimchi tacos, choosing the Korean BBQ beef over the spicy pork and pulled chicken.


The taco’s came in a biodegradable box, it seems that all of the Kimchi Truck’s packaging is biodegradable, including their utensils, straws and bags. The tacos were packed full of beef and kimchi, and topped with scallions and cilantro. The kimchi was definitely authentic, pungent enough that it smelled through the bag and still left a lingering smell in our office. Adding kimchi to a taco is sheer brilliance, it went amazingly with the scallions and cilantro, and created a truly unique taste. We were sadly underwhelmed by the beef however. It was cut in smaller pieces than I expected and the texture was more like ground beef than Korean BBQ. The kimchi may have overpowered some of its taste, but the beef was a little too mild, and we could hardly taste it beneath the flavorful toppings. The soft taco shell was pretty standard, though a little tough sometimes.

Overall we found the kimchi to be the best part of the entire taco, while the beef was much blander than other Korean BBQ trucks like Bapcha or Korilla. Our advice: order a side of kimchi for $3 and get the rest of your meal somewhere else.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com