Yesterday I got a call from my brother-in-law, Jim, wanting to know if the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I were free to meet him for dinner. We were and we did.
Some time ago we all went to have some sake at what Jim said was a pretty authentic sake bar like you might find in Japan. Unfortunately it was after we had lunch at Capucine's and the bar didn't open until 5:30 P.M.
Hagi is right next door to a larger Japanese restaurant and is down a few steps from street level at 152 West 49th.
The place was pretty crowded when we arrived and by the time we left there were about a dozen people waiting to get in. I could see why because the food was good, the beer was cold, the sake was excellent, and the sweet potato shochu, a vodka like liquor, was potent.
They had a nice selection of sakes and shochus to chose from but only two types of beer, Kirin and Sapporo, both Japanese. I guess they want to stay true the the nature of the place.
Pick Your Poisons
Most of the dishes are fairly inexpensive, $7.50 to $10.00 and range from fairly small portions to the fairly large. It was all good though.
We started out with some sashimi and lightly battered eel on a stick. Just like you might get at the Minnesota State Fair where you can get anything on a stick.
Fish And Eel
We followed that up with some thinly sliced and crispy short ribs. They were a bit on the chewy side but quite tasty.
Next came something a little bit different, chicken gizzards and garlic shoots. I am a big fan of gizzards, especially the pickled turkey gizzards that you find in a lot of bars in small towns in northern Minnesota.
Gizzards And Greens
Next we had a decent sized serving of mackeral. This was very good and not at all oily like mackaral can so often be.
We finished up with a big plate of pork belly and kimchi and by the time we were finished we were all pretty full.
The Coup de Grace
Everyone enjoyed them selves, as you can see.
Jim Chowing Down
The Mysterious Chinese Woman Wiping Up
They didn't serve the sake in the little wooden trays, but the did fill them to the brim as is the custom. The wooden trays are used to catch the overflow and traditionally you pour the sake to a bit overflowing to demonstrate you generosity.
A Heaping Glass Of Sake
Bar Man Slurping It Down
We would have stayed a bit longer but the crowd waiting to be seated so that they could eat made us feel like we should go somewhere else if we wanted to just have another drink or two. Luckily, there are plenty of bars in this area so we popped into Ruby Foo's where I had a bit more hot sake and Jim had a beer.
Almost A Nightcap
Ruby Foo's wasn't that busy and the bartender said it had been that way for awhile. I suspect it will get even worse when a lot of the Broadway shows close down in a week or two. She said several of the wait staff had already been let go and that more cuts were probably on the way.
We decided to pop into Jimmy's Corner for one last beer before heading home and this place wasn't lacking for business. Just a really narrow space that was packed.
Maybe with the economic downturn some of these smaller divier bars will make a comeback as people look for cheaper alternatives to the over-priced and overly fancy cocktails everyone seems compelled to serve these days. Now don't get me wrong, I do like the resurgence of the old, well-made classic cocktails. And by well-made I mean, for example, a Manhattan with decent sweet and dry vermouths and a shot of bitters, preferably orange bitters.
Oh, there were no samurais.