Enter Yakiniku West to a wall of shoes due East. Yes, authentic Japanese BBQ means following authentic Japanese rituals. Of course, they make it clear that while taking off your shoes is mandatory, you leave them in a cubby at your own risk. Walking into Yakiniku West is like walking into Flight Club; only the shoes are not all fresh Nike’s and vintage Air Jordan’s wrapped in plastic, and they’re especially not for sale.
The tables at Yakiniku are dug out into the floor. At first, I thought I would have to sit Indian style on the floor, which would have been somewhat of an issue. However, I quickly realized that the Japanese are smarter than that. Maybe they sit legs crossed on the floor in Japan, but they know how we operate in New York: overweight, inflexible, and out of shape. Grab a pillow, and take a seat.
Yakiniku West abides by the “do it yourself” concept. Quite frankly I think its genius. You buy the raw meat; they provide your own grills built into the table. A few pitchers of Kirin and some saki-bombs and boom! all of a sudden you are the modern day Morimoto. Who needs Benihana anyway? The meat is thinly sliced, well marinated and easy to cook. I’m pretty confident you can’t really screw this up. I’d trust Stevie Wonder to orchestrate my dinner at Yakiniku West any day.
Don’t bother with the sushi menu; stick with the searing raw meat selection. The sweet and sour dipping sauces come complimentary and gave me more satisfaction then trading my apple for someone’s Dunk-a-roos during lunch back in Elementary school. While the cookie-to-frosting ratio may have triggered your adolescent anxiety, rest assure your sweet and sour dipping sauce can be refilled.
Yakiniku West is a slam-dunk. Bring the whole team.
East Village – E 9th Between 2nd and 3rd Avenue
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