Under: Asian,Cheap Eats,Dinner,Drinks,Japanese,Lunch,Midtown West,My Life,seafood,Snacks,Sushi,Tapas,Things to do in NYC
After learning how to make focaccia bread from Carl, we went out for Japanese food near Times Square. When I mentioned that I wanted to eat near Times Square, I could tell Carl was very hesitant (I would be, too), but I reassured him that there are small pockets of Japanese restaurants throughout the city that are worth visiting. Two bloggers mentioned Sake Bar Hagi and I tried going a while back with Laura, but the wait was so long on a rainy Sunday night that we ended up going next door for ramen at Sapporo. I arrived early and had a chance to put our name down, which was a good thing since the wait ended up being an hour (however, they’ll take your phone number and call you if you want to walk around Times Square/Rockefeller Center). By the time we sat down, we were pretty famished, so I started ordering right away. The first thing that caught my attention was the soft shell crab:
Some people compare Sake Bar Hagi to Sakagura and I think Sakagura has one of the best deep fried soft shell crab dishes in the city, so I decided to give Sake Bar Hagi’s dish a try as well. The crab was lightly coated and quickly fried and had a great combination of ponzu sauce and flakes of sea salt. It’s a special, but definitely worth ordering.
The next dish that came out was the tofu soup:
The tofu was too firm and looked like they just took it out of the tofu wrapper and plopped it in water (it tasted like that, too). I thought it would be smoother, silkier, and much more appetizing. It wasn’t terrible, but there are so many better dishes at the restaurant that I’d definitely skip this soup in the future.
Next came our yakitori skewers – an assortment of meats (pork belly, steak, meatballs, and chicken):
The pork belly and steak were my favorites – a nice hint of grilled flavor with a squeeze of lemon really amped up the flavor of the meats. Also, the garlic was surprisingly tender and sweet.
Next came our fried eel:
Similar to the fried soft shell crab – quickly fried, seasoned with salt, and eaten with a dash of soy sauce. The fried eel was good, but the soft shell crab was a lot better.
Our last dish was the spicy roe with fried rice:
My friend Eunice raved about this dish so we tried it and both really enjoyed it. I’ve read that the spicy roe also comes on top of spaghetti with some soft of cream sauce and it gives me a reason to visit again.
The drinks are really cheap, there are televisions to watch in case you go alone (or you can sit at the bar), and the restaurant is open late. The food is definitely better than the other yakitori places on St. Marks (another plus – it’s not filled with a lot of underage NYU kids that are super loud and obnoxious). If you ever find yourself looking for a place to eat near Times Square, you should definitely try Sake Bar Hagi.