January 15, 2007 | Insatiable Critic

Kobe Club

        If at first you don’t succeed, open a steakhouse, the fates whispered to Jeffrey Chodorow. So unloved Mix, twice unhappily revised, reemerges as Kobe Club, and the kitchen is already impressive. Still, it takes time to stop being anxious, parked in a primo booth under 2,000 samurai swords suspended from the ceiling—a literal drop-dead effect. It’s wildly expensive and chichi, too, so I’m not expecting thrills. But then sublime excess in overstuffed crab cakes arrives—“double stuffer,” it’s inelegantly called. And I’m gone. Diver scallops with chunks of rich Kobe short rib are almost as delicious. Lauran’s Chopped Salad—crab, shrimp, mango, bacon, and blue cheese—prepared tableside, is a starter four can share. Surrounded by Wall Street bonus babies, we are pinching pennies a little, ignoring cocktails and raw bar, rejecting three kinds of pricey Kobe and Kobe-style steaks. In our experience, it’s unpleasantly soft. Like my guy, the Road Food Warrior, I favor a classic sirloin. And the $45 sixteen-ounce American strip we are sharing is amazing: properly crusty, rare, tender but meaty. Suddenly a Wagyu tasting platter materializes. (Later I realize we’ve accepted the house’s all-Japanese $295 Emperor’s Flight. Will Spitzer be after me?) Three bites later, I have to admit, it’s the best Wagyu I’ve ever tasted. Parmesan truffle fries are pale and not crisp enough, but the lobster-and-chorizo-stuffed hash browns still haunt me. And the chocolate caviar with sweet vanilla blini seem fitting for a finale.

68 W. 58th St. nr. Sixth Ave. 212 644 5623