Sakagura: All the Elements of a Great Night
Sakagura, meaning "Sake Brewery/Warehouse/Cellar", is one of the best izakayas I've ever been to. It is a true and creative izakaya, i.e. a drinking establishment that serves food to accompany the drinks. In other words, its primary focus is its drinks. With over 200 available sakes, Sakagura has the largest selection of sake in New York. If you're lucky, the food at an izakaya will taste pretty good after a few cups of sake. Fortunately, Sakagura's food tastes good even before intoxication!
Sakagura is hidden in the basement of a Midtown office building. It sounds sketchy but it’s actually very cool and safe. Before you walk into the restaurant, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re looking to eat sushi, turn around and go to the Sushi Yasuda across the street. But, if you’re looking to eat a bunch of delicious appetizer-sized dishes and drink some great sake, you need to go to Sakagura.
Being the tech-savvy genius that I am, I accidentally deleted half of the photos from our visit so we're planning on going back sometime soon. We ordered the Maguro Tartar (chopped tuna with yuzu steeped flying fish roe and caviar). And, we also got the Jidori Shioyaki, grilled organic free range chicken served with sea salt and yuzu citrus pepper. These were probably my two favorite non-dessert dishes. And, we don’t have any pictures. Sorry :( The Jidori Shioyaki was on a whole new level of greatness. It’s my new spirit animal. What was it before? Probably either wagyu steak or bacon-wrapped dates. Anyways, I’m going to go back to Sakagura to take pictures of these two dishes again. And, I’ll be trying out one or two or… two hundred of their sakes.
Anyways, I will be back for more. Look out for Part 2! :)
Address: 211 E 43rd St B1, New York, NY 10017
Maguro Tartar: Chopped Tuna with Flying Fish Roe and Steeped in Yuzu and Caviar
Gindara Yuan Yaki: Grilled Fillets of Cod Fish Steeped in Sweet Soy Sauce
Gyutan Yawaraka Ni: Beef Tongue Stewed in a Miso Served with Slices of Daikon Radish, Taro Potato, Spinach, and Shiitake Mushrooms
Jidori Shioyaki: Grilled Organic Free Range Chicken Served with Sea Salt and "Yuzu" Citrus Pepper
Fluke Carpaccio: Thinly Sliced Fluke Sashimi Drizzled with Olive Oil Topped with Plum Paste, Salmon Roe, and Shiso Leaf
Ebi Shinjo: Deep Fried Shrimp Balls Covered with Sliced Almonds
Sanshoku Nasu Dengaku: Grilled Japanese Eggplants Served with Three Kinds of Miso
Coffee Jello: Coffee Gelatin with Vanilla Ice Cream
Hannya Ume Sake Sorbet Served with Ume Sake Jello.
Pear Millefeuille with Earl Gray Ice Cream
The first thing I want to talk about is the Kani (snow crab) clay pot rice with miso soup. The miso soup was good but a bit salty. Before mixing, there were about two large tablespoons of crab and some crab butter. Focusing on the proportion, I wish there was 50% more crab (an extra tablespoon). It would have made a difference. I couldn’t enjoy the crab as much as I would have liked. The main reason I liked the dish was because of the rice. The rice was gorgeous. The grains were not very long. They almost seemed polished. It wasn’t overly dry, wet, or sticky. It was just right. The rice did an okay job of soaking in the flavors of the crab and the crab butter. I would only order the kani rice again to accompany another dish.
The Gindara Yuan Yaki, for example, went very well with the kani rice. The dish is composed of grilled fillets of cod fish steeped in sweet soy sauce. It reminded me of the Saikyo Miso Black Cod at En Japanese Brasserie. But, it was a sweeter version, savory but light. I’m not the only one that loves this fish. The Japanese love gindara for its amazing flavor and texture. I like this dish because there are so many different flavors going on one after another. First, you get the beautiful buttery flavor from the fish, then the sweetness of the soy sauce, then the savoriness of the grilled skin.
For dessert, I got the black sesame crème brulee with black sesame ice cream. I’ve always loved crème brulee and I’ve always adored black sesame ice cream. But some sick genius thought it would be smart to combine these two separate desserts into one bodacious dessert. I would lick the plate down if I weren’t in public. I love that sweet, nutty sesame flavor. It’s not overwhelmingly sweet like other desserts.
Lastly, Steph ordered the Hannya Ume Sake Sorbet. Hannya Ume is a Japanese plum. Sweet Japanese Plum sake is sometimes infused with red chili pepper to give it a bold, spicy Bruce Lee kick to the face. It was a new flavor to me and I liked it a lot.