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NYC

Review

Bohemian

$$$$
Japanese / Steaks  in  NOHO
Written by

To get a reservation at Bohemian, you have to know the name of someone who’s eaten there before. Like Raya or any bathroom near Times Square during the ball drop, it's exclusive - which is the first thing you hear about when someone mentions this place. But the reservation process has nothing to do with why we’ve been coming here for a decade. It’s actually just a distraction from the fact that Bohemian is a great restaurant.

Like at the original location in Tokyo, Bohemian doesn’t list its phone number publicly, but with some Googling, you’ll figure it out. After repeatedly hitting redial like you’re trying to be the 100th caller in a radio station ticket giveaway, a voice on the other end of the line will ask if you or someone you know has dined here before. They’ve had this policy since they opened in 2009, so ask your friends or put up a CraigsList ad, and you’ll probably find someone whose name you can use. We’re not sure if this whole process is a nod to the “no entry without an introduction” custom at certain high-end spots in Japan, or a marketing tactic targeting people who list “Soho House” as a hobby. But we are sure that it’s worth going through the motions, because once you’re here, you’ll eat exceptionally good meat in a simple space that’s unlike anywhere else in the city.

You’ll know you’ve made it when you find the Japan Premium Beef butcher store in Noho, and a plaque out front that explains how the building was once the home and art studio of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Once you buzz the doorbell at the end of a narrow hallway and walk inside, you’ll find a space that looks like what would happen if a tech billionaire responded to a midlife crisis by building a meditation retreat. There’s a zen garden and a big skylight, along with some low-lying, plush living room furniture and walls decorated with a few acoustic guitars. It’s calm and quiet in here, and when the meal begins with warm hand towels, you’ll feel like you’re at a day spa. With only about seven tables and a few bar seats, the intimate space is ideal for an impressive date, while the big selection of Japanese whiskeys and the premium cuts of steak also make it a good option when clients or bosses tell you to pick “somewhere different.”

The menu here ranges from bar snacks and sashimi to rotating cuts of beef that come from the specialty butcher shop you passed on your way in. The steaks are fantastic, and you’ll enjoy whichever one you choose from the wooden cow diagram that functions as the steak menu, but there are better-value ways to spend your money here. You can get the same meat from Japan Premium Beef in some of the shareable small plates, which are more interesting and far less expensive. Get the thick burger, which is basically a giant Wagyu meatball topped with crunchy lotus root, and the beef tartare that’s like a memory foam mattress on top of a box spring made out of blue cheese-infused toast.

As you walk back out onto Great Jones Street after dinner, you’ll feel like you’re reemerging after a three-hour break from the real world. You’ll look in the window of Japan Premium Beef, and realize that even though you may never get into Raya, at least you can come back to Bohemian. And you can use your own name next time.

Food Rundown

Steak

Every night, Japan Premium beef supplies different cuts of American-raised Wagyu to the restaurant. You can be sure they’re going to be really high-quality and cooked perfectly, but whether or not you’re willing to pay more than $100 for around 12 ounces of steak is up to you.

Mac & Cheese

The six cheeses underneath the charred crust are so liquidy that you need to eat this kind of like a soup. And as with any soup, the best part is letting the bread (grilled toast topped with tomato butter, in this case) soak it in for a long, long time.

Ikan Bakar

You’re not alone if you read “grilled whole fish” on restaurant menus as “expensive opportunity to pull bones out of your mouth,” but this sea bass is a must-order. It’s cooked in spicy tomato sauce, and has perfectly crisped and salty skin. The meaty filets come off the bone easily, so you get a lot of fish, and very few bones.

Uni Croquette

We love uni, and we love croquettes, but they just don’t work together here. Any flavor from the uni is lost under the stronger flavors in the croquette, so you end up spending more than $20 for a couple of bites of fried mushroom and cream filling.

Tartare

The Wagyu tartare, which melts when you bite into it, and the toast it’s served on, which is filled with melted blue cheese, work together like popstars and autotune. This needs to be on your table.

Short Rib Sashimi

If you want excellent, raw meat, but something a bit less intense than the tartare, get the short rib sashimi. The rich beef is cut by the wasabi, ginger, and lemon.

Bohemian’s Burger

These are called mini burgers on the menu, and you can call them sliders if you want. But just know that they’re a lot better than the ones you eat exactly at the moment when you start feeling tipsy during cocktail hour at weddings. The thick patty from Japan Premium Beef is barely smaller than that of standard burger, and yet the juicy meat, which falls apart when you bite into it, is much higher quality. Oh, and you get two of them for $18.

Teriyaki Burger

The same deal here - two excellent meatball-like patties on charred buns for $18 - except these have even more going on. Each one is dripping with a mild teriyaki sauce and topped with a crunchy slab of lotus root and spicy mayo. Along with the tartare, the burgers are the can’t miss dishes at Bohemian.

Pork Loin

Japan Premium Beef also supplies the pork, and while they don’t breed their own pigs like they do cows, they still take it seriously enough to tell you the pig’s diet and slaughtering method. It’s a very big portion that’s shareable for a few people, but it’s generally forgettable, including some pieces that are basically just mouthfuls of fat. There are better dishes here.

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