Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sake Bar Hagi

Interior Bar Sake Hagi

On the outskirts of the bright lights of Times Square, Sake Bar Hagi sits in the shadows. Its not the type of bar you would expect so close to Times Square. Its so very close to being engulfed by the bright lights, but there it sits in the shadows; an unexpected find even for those who expect to find it. I was looking for it and still I missed it.

A few friends were in town and wanted to visit a late night spot for some food and drink. We decided to give Sake Bar Hagi a try because of its NYTimes review and guest appearance on No Reservations. Bourdain has yet to let me down as a reference point.

Watari Bune, chilling

Our first order of business was deciding on a sake. What we ended up getting was a bottle of Watari Bune's Junmai Ginjo 55 which was a beautiful sweet sake. The flavors were unique with a clean finish. I'm not sure how to fully describe it other than it was a joy to drink throughout the night.

The food was also consistently good, especially for the price point. Even with our sampling of the menu there were a few things I would go back just to try. Overall the menu was a selection of small plates, much like tapas, that go great shared with friends and/or alcohol. Good conversation is a must.

I really liked Sake Bar Hagi because of this. Unlike many places in New York, I wasn't strained when talking to friends. The noise was not overwhelming. The place operated like a restaurant but it felt like a lounge. At least for me, even though the food piqued our interests throughout the night, it was the sake that really defined it. Unique and definitely a clean finish.

Radish Salad w/ crispy baby sardine
Radish Salad w/ crispy baby sardine. This dish was the star of the evening. Ordered 3 times, I would have been happy if it was the only dish. The lightness and subtlety of a lightly pickled daikon, fragrance of a little sesame oil, sweetness and acidity of rice wine vinegar, crispiness of the lightly fried baby sardines, and unique flavor of seaweed all meld together perfectly in this delightful dish.

Yakitori (left to right: chicken skin, chicken meatball, duck, pork belly, chicken). This was pretty average except for the the chicken meatball which was impressively tender and juicy.

Okonomiyaki. This chewy doughy pancake was a delight to eat. I loved the texture of the pancake along with the sauce and bonito.

Grilled Yellowtail Collar w/ salt
Grilled Yellowtail Collar w/ salt. This was a bit salty at times, but the greasy white fish meat was great with the sake. I probably would have liked this more later on in the night, but at that point it may have been harder to handle than I would have liked.

Takoyaki. It might have been because I let this sit a while before I had a piece, but it was a bit soggy for my tastes. The flavors were spot on though.

Cherrystone Clams
Cherrystone Clams. Refreshingly good. Although it did seem like we got one that was pretty bad.

Cold Tofu
Cold Tofu. I didn't have any of this, but I'm not a big fan of most cold tofu's prepped this way. Looked like pretty standard fare.

Some sort of fried root
These were good, but not memorable. It was some sort of fried root. Off the specials menu

1 comment:

  1. At bottom are the gobo, or burdock, chips.