March 13, 2010

Sake Bar Hagi

Raw Octopus Marinated in Wasabi... my fave

Yakitori at Sake Bar Hagi

Pork Belly

Sake Bar Hagi is one of my favorite not-so-well kept secrets (I love telling people about this place and I hate telling people about this place). For me, it is probably the ONLY restaurant worth going to around Times Square.

Hidden from the tourists, Hagi is located in the basement of an unassuming building on 49th Street, diagonally across from the once-almighty Lehman Brothers building. In order to get to the restaurant, you have to walk down a narrow and somewhat steep set of stairs. During peak hours, you must put your name on the waiting list, which tends to vary from 30 seconds to 30 minutes depending on your party size (smaller the better).

My absolute must-get dish there is the Wasabu Octopus. It's basically raw octopus marinated in wasabi and placed on top of a bed of cold shredded yams. I don't know why I love it so much, but I think it has something to do with the gooey/crunchy texture. Next is a set of yakitori. Sadly, they stopped serving my faves: chicken heart, chicken gizzard, and chicken liver. There are only a few decent ones left: pork belly, duck, chicken skin, and quail.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of small dishes that are great. From deep fried chicken gizzard (watch out, they're hot!) to beef tongue, grilled squid to yellowtail collar, you'll have a hard time editing your list down. Their ramen isn't bad either, and is a good portion to share.

Lastly, a chilled cup of a premium Junmai Ginjo helps cut through the fat and makes you forget the fact that you're sitting below the busy streets of the Big Apple.

More pics can be found here.


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