You know when you come across a wow-restaurant in New York and have to decide whether you want to keep it to yourself or share it with your friends? I've decided to share Takashi
with the world, as I feel it deserves everyone's attention!
I had the privilege of interviewing Takashi (the owner) and Reece (the manager) of the West Village restaurant. As soon as you enter, you are instantly greeted by the friendly Reece, who will spot a seat for you - if it's not packed, fingers crossed! Meanwhile, the handsome Takashi regularly browses the restaurant to make sure that everyone is enjoying their meals and that his well-trained staff provides full knowledge of each dish! Takashi will take you to a whole new level of yakiniku (barbecue), raw meats, and the art of pairing them with seasonal vegetables.
Seriously, I loved everything - the food, the Japanese cartoon mural menu, the interior design, the friendly staff, the atmosphere, and the cute bunny ice cream spoon! There is nothing that isn't thoughtfully curated by Takashi. Truly a one-of-a-kind cuisine experience!
Joyce Lee: What made you decide to open a restaurant?
I went to culinary school before becoming a chef in Osaka for 12 years, making traditional Japanese food. I was going to open a restaurant there with my family, but I ended up here instead - but I didn't come to NY to open a restaurant. After a while, I couldn't find any good BBQ restaurant or good intestine, horumon
. BBQ is my soul food. The Korean-Japanese invented it, and it's what I love, as I'm Korean-Japanese. There is no Japanese BBQ in NY like Yakiniku Takashi.
JL: What's the story behind the mural menu?
I found it a cute and intriguing way of introducing food. Customers might get grossed out by a picture of raw beef - a cartoon will do a better job! My friend flew over from Japan to complete the mural and signs (choking, no smoking, et cetera).
JL: You are the only restaurant in the country that uses the infrared grill.
I wanted to use charcoal, but couldn't because of fire regulations. A desk grill wasn't good enough. So I went to Japan and found a the newly invented infrared grill, and I felt it was the best - it's better than gas and it mimics charcoal. Plus, it's cleaner.
JL: What do you recommend from your menu?
Everything on my menu is my favorite food. But I love the Niku-Un
i (chuck flap topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi), the Harami
(outside skirt), the Mino
(first stomach), and the Horumon-Moriawase
: Mine is the Yooke
(thinly-sliced chuck eye tartare in special sauce). I always recommend it to a new customer.
JL: Any customers that you appreciate most?
The ones who can eat a lot!
Those who are always curious and happy trying new food, especially the American customers who try raw meats and intestines and end up enjoying them.
JL: You have amazing soft ice cream. I hear you use a special machine?
Everything on my menu is my favorite food, and soft ice cream is one of them. I never had a good soft ice cream in NYC and I thought I would make one for myself so I can eat it whenever I want it. After BBQ, finishing it with soft ice cream is the best.
JL: The staff in your restaurant is very nice with excellent customer service, any secret?
I know, I love them they are like my family. Think I have a good instinct with people.
JL: You used to be a DJ in Tokyo. Is the music you play at the restaurant all your selection?
Yes, it's my style. I miss DJing, but I don't have the time to do it anymore.
JL: How did you start your blog?
My boyfriend suggested that I start a blog two years ago. I mostly started it for my family. Then 80% of Japanese customers told me that they read my blog! I had no idea that it will be so popular.
JL: Is there any food that you don't eat?
No, I eat everything!
JL: What's your favorite restaurant in NY?
Sushi 15 east. I love Korean BBQ. I like simple food and seafood. For seafood, I go to Mary's Fish Camp and for dessert, Chikalicious .
JL: What else would you like people to know about your restaurant?
I don't want people to get overwhelmed over raw food. With sauce, it's delicious.
I dream about new dishes. One night, I dreamed about this new ingredient for a sauce mix and it tasted good in my dream. So the next day, I tried it, and it worked!
JL: What's your next move?
Maybe I'll do another restaurant, but I don't want to open the same restaurant. Maybe I'll do Osaka soul food!
JL: Do customers flirt with you?
No, I haven't noticed.
Yes, they do! But this is not that kind of place.
JL: Fill in the blank. I wouldn't be caught dead ______.
At Gyukakyu! (Laughs)
456 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014-3781
just eat it
joyce joohee lee