Chef Katsuji Tanabe is a character, and the food he’s serving up at his new location in New York is every bit as bright, colorful and authentic as he is. The much-beloved Top Chef alum worked in a number of top kitchens in and around Los Angeles before he opened his Pico-Robertson taco shop. After five years and a series of Midtown pop-ups over the last couple of years, Mexikosher has found a new home on 83rd Street.
Though he doesn’t come from a kosher background — his father is Japanese and his mother Mexican — Katsuji grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Mexico City. After he had become a cook he found himself drawn to kosher cooking and embraced by the kosher community. I guess it’s true for everyone that the way to the heart is through the stomach.
The open-face burrito, unwrapped for your visual pleasure
Everything you find in Mexikosher is made in-house, from the beef and duck confit carnitas cooked to tender perfection over 18 hours to the perfectly seasoned carne asada and grilled chicken to each of the many toppings and sauces. Choose from a selection of pickled vegetables, including red and gold beets, radishes, onions, and jalapeños; nopales (cactus leaves); pico de gallo and more.
A range of simple, fresh, delicious toppings
Homemade salsas include spicy peanut, sweet smoked chipotle, mango habañero, creamy bacon, roasted tomato, Serrano aioli and tomatillo, and all are available in large, easy-to-access squeeze bottles, so you’re sure to never run out.
A wings appetizer, sweet and spicy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside
The menu is small, but the flavors are phenomenal. The hot wings are a must if you enjoy both heat and sticky sweet sauce. They’re complex, with a hard fried dough layer that gives way to incredibly tender meat.
Burrito under construction
An order of tacos includes three well-stuffed, double-layered soft tortillas with a choice of toppings, but you can also get all of the same ingredients in burritos, salad bowls or topped nachos.
One order of carne asada tacos
One addition to the New York menu is the Torta Ahogado, or “drowned sandwich.” A generous portion of 16-hour-braised birria with mixed chillies is stuffed into a classic sub roll, and then the whole thing is plunked into a vat of spicy red gravy and allowed to soak for a few moments. The torta then gets lifted (carefully) into a takeaway box and topped with another generous serving of pink pickled onions. This item is limited, so if you’re planning a trip you may want to get there early to snag one for yourself.
Saucy smothered torta ahogado
If Mexikosher New York works like its Los Angeles forbear, the chef and his crew will be free to create regular off-menu specials. Highlights from L.A. stops run the gamut from the normal — a variety of tasty and unique burgers — to the extraordinary, like one memorable visit for fried calf brain tacos.
Even if it sounds strange, the truth is you can trust Katsuji to serve only lovingly crafted, completely delicious food. His creativity and willingness to experiment has served him (and us) very well. His touch with ingredients borders on supernatural, and you can take this from a lifelong extreme onion hater who looks forward to the thought of her next pickled allum–spiked torta. And remember: They don’t serve hummus.
100 W 83rd Street
New York, NY