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Yakiniku Futago

  • Restaurants
  • Flatiron
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Photograph: Courtesy of Yakiniku Futago
Photograph: Courtesy of Yakiniku Futago

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

As our waiter lifts a thin cross-section of Kalbi ribeye from a mist of dry ice, he announces his intent to lay the marbled meat on the in-table grill by shouting, “Hami-kal yakimasu! Sei-no?,” to which the waiters and patrons cheer, “Yoisho!” This is standard practice at the New York flagship of this theatrical Tokyo-born chain, founded in 2010 by twin brothers and restaurateurs Sunbong and Sunchol Lee (yakiniku refers to the lesser-known, Korean-influenced Japanese barbecue, while futago translates to “twins”).

Located in the food-dense Flatiron District, the restaurant occupies a long, spare room lined with exposed brick, wood paneling and a tilework portrait of the twins. It’s clear the brothers aspire for a modern, rather than traditional atmosphere throughout: bathrooms are fitted with high-tech Washlet toilets, the soundtrack mixes hip-hop with Korean pop and regulars receive name plates on the wall (one is cheekily marked “P Diddy”), along with gratis desserts and a pair of custom engraved golden tongs.

Despite the restaurant’s casual ambience, you’ll have to call in advance to reserve their hamideru kalbi ($45; well-worth in the investment), as there are only ten orders per night of this half-pound imported Japanese black Wagyu, cut into four distinct segments and served with lettuce leaves, red bean paste and fresh wasabi. For appetizers, you won’t find any better than the sinfully tender filet or rare steak with toasted garlic ($15), followed closely by a seared fatty toro kalbi with a zesty ponzu sauce ($15). Make it a hat trick with plucky skewers of deep-fried shrimp and quail egg ($5).

If you’ve never tried beef sushi, there’s no better introduction than the menu’s lightly broiled beef with sea urchin ($25)—a study in umami with cherry-red beef nestling a dollop of perfectly briny uni on a shiso leaf. The parade continues with a likewise delicious harami sushi ($6), cushioning Kobe skirt steak with a soft pillow of rice.

As with Korean barbecue, the meat is best with banchan sides including an assortment of vegetables and kimchi ($15) that come in boisterously spiced and pickled bok choy, cucumber and daikon. You can also cool your palate with the on-trend Japanese cold noodles ($6), prepared eight hours in advance with a pleasantly fishy bonito broth. Served chilled in copper bowls, the chewy Morioka-style noodles are refreshing respite after a spread of meat. Give the feast a final cap-off with the house Gold Rush ($8), a heaping tower of shaved ice and condensed milk topped with shimmering gold leaf and served with squared-off spoons that function like tiny snow shovels.

Beyond the grade-A grub, service excels: knowledgeable waiters provide guests with black bibs for spatters and tiny Ziploc bags to shield cell phones, all while performing their tableside cooking with zealous flair. In a town dominated by Korean barbecue, it’s easy to see how Yakiniku Futago makes a stunning case for Japanese.



37 W.17th Street
New York
Subway: L, N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6 to 14th St–Union Sq
$50 and over
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri noon-2:30pm, 5-11pm; Sun 5-11pm
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