After a decade in the West Village, Japanese grilling destination Takashi has permanently closed. Owner Saheem Ali wrote in a letter on the restaurant’s website that the pandemic “has dealt us a particularly deft blow.”
Because the restaurant was known for tabletop grilling, communal eating, and interactive dining, offering delivery or takeout didn’t make sense, Ali writes. The yakiniku restaurant was also too small for reduced capacity to financially work, he says.
“Cooking at your table is a fundamental part of the Takashi experience, as crucial as the flavors,” Ali writes. “In my mind, you can’t separate the two.”
Ali, who works as a theater director, opened Takashi in April 2010 with chef Takashi Inoue, and it was immediately a hit, with four hour waits and one-star review from the New York Times. It was also a favorite of the late Anthony Bourdain, who like other chefs in town, appreciated Inoue’s celebration of the entire cow. The restaurant offered the animal’s multiple stomachs, aorta, and achilles tendon, playing with texture and flavor. One particularly known dish involved squeezing calf’s brain out of a tube.
Though the waits eventually died down some, the restaurant remained a favorite in the food world. But in 2017, Inoue died at age 40 due to a respiratory illness. Ali opted to keep the restaurant open in honor of the chef’s commitment to restaurant’s unique experience.
The restaurant will not be reopening elsewhere, Ali tells Eater. “Alas no, this is it for Takashi. We can’t come back from this.”