A Michelin three-star sushi master is cooking up burgers in a spiky cast-iron device of his own design at the casual Japanese grill house he opened earlier this week in TriBeCa.
At $18 for the beef patty and $19 for the lamb, the sandwich available at Masayoshi “Masa” Takayama’s Tetsu is affordably within your grasp — but there’s a catch. You’ll have to place your order within a one-hour window starting at 5 p.m.
Each patty is grilled individually in a cast-iron device the chef says he developed with artisans in Japan “over many years.” (He’s been plotting this restaurant for the past seven). The bespoke gadget features metalhead-type spikes, which could be used for torture, but instead puncture the meat to ensure it’s cooked all the way through as the flames of an open fire at very high heat lap the bottom.
The burger — the first Takayama has served at any of his restaurants — comes to your table on a pretzel bun, “the perfect balance of sweet and savory,” according to the chef who made his reputation serving lavish prix-fixe sushi meals at the price of $595 per person at Masa in the Shops at Columbus Circle.
At Tetsu, which means “iron” in Japanese, the focus is on skewers slow-cooked over a Japanese-style robata grill (priced from $5 to $18 a stick). But when it comes to the burgers, Takayama keeps it relatively simple: the sole topping on the lamb version is a mild taleggio cheese; on the beef counterpart, it’s a sharp cheddar cheese.
They’re available for one hour only as a “sneak preview for when we start our lunch service with the burger in 2018,” the chef said. Of course, 5 p.m. is the perfect time to order a cup of Japanese sake or a Soju thai basil cocktail ($16) to help wash yours down.
The all-American sandwiches are, according to a representative, Takayama’s favorite food to make and eat when he’s not working.
Tetsu is open for dinner every night except Sunday at 78 Leonard St. Hours Monday through Thursday are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; they extend to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.