Tongue is one of the food world's most maligned meats. While the muscle is tender and high in fat with a rich, buttery flavor, it's the idea of eating it that inhibits many diners. But New York foodies share an affinity for alternative meats, and are always keen to welcome the latest carnivorous trend.
Tongue dishes are prevalent in Jewish and Mexican cuisine, traditionally pickled, boiled or braised and turned into rye bread sandwiches and tacos de lengua. This season, New York's chefs are trying to shed tongue's unsavory stigma, giving the lingual delicacy the attention it deserves.
Tongue currently appears on the menu at some of the city's most buzzed-about restaurants. Here are five of Manhattan's trendiest tongue dishes and where you can taste them:
Beef Tongue Sushi with Ponzu & Jalapeño at Chez Sardine
At Gabriel Stulman's latest West Village venture, diners are raving about the ultra-tender tongue sushi. Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly tells amNewYork the tongue is poached for hours before being sliced with precision. The sushi is served over traditional Japanese rice and topped with ponzu sauce and pickled jalapeños. $4. 183 W. 10th St., 646-360-3705
The Tongue Experience at Takashi
At this DIY Asian fusion offal oasis, the "Experience" involves three distinct cuts of beef tongue, Tan-saki, Tan-suji and Tan-moto - including the lesser-loved muscular tip. The meat is marinated in a garlicky soy-based sauce, then served raw and ready-to-cook on the restaurant's tabletop grills. $20. 456 Hudson St., 212-414-2929
Grilled Lamb Tongue Torta at Salvation Taco
Tongue gets spicy at this nontraditional taco and tequila joint, the latest out-of-the-box culinary project from April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (The Spotted Pig). Warm slabs of grilled lamb tongue are packed into a soft roll and slathered with black beans, onions and cilantro. Lunch only. $9. 145 E. 39th St., 212-865-5800
Beef Tongue with Daikon, Shitake and Black Truffle Teriyaki at Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya
New York's latest addition to the Blue Ribbon empire, this small-plate Japanese tavern housed in the Thompson LES Hotel serves up satisfyingly meaty bites of beef tongue bathed in a sticky-sweet truffle-teriyaki sauce. $15. 187 Orchard St., 212-466-0404
Lengua: Crispy Beef Tongue with Mustard Española and Cornichons at Txikito
Basque flavors influence this crispy comfort food from Chef Alex Raij (El Quinto Pino, La Vara). Thin slices of braised and breaded tongue are deep-fried, accompanied by a tangy mustard and cornichon sauce. $16. 240 Ninth Ave., 212-242-4730