Saturday, September 19, 2009
Lighted signs guiding you to Japanese heaven.
Our friendly host offering samples of sake.
Sake Service: brilliant!
Ohitashi - Shimeji, shiitake, enoki mushrooms and mitsuba leaves in bonito broth.
Five Kinds of Seasonal Sashimi
Kamo Roast Negimaki - Chilled roasted duck wrapped around scallion with basil sauce.
Gindara Yuan Yaki - Grilled cod steeped in sweet soy sauce.
Sanma Miso Hobayashi - Chopped pike mackerel, miso paste on hoba leaf.
Buta Kakuni - Stewed diced pork.
We're back in New York City and hitting the restaurant scene once again. Tonight's venture takes us to Sakagura. Sake bar? Izakaya? Whatever the case, I'm never sure about classifications other than the fact that the descriptions stating that visiting Sakagura is like a visit to Tokyo are spot on.
Located in the basement of a nondescript office building on 43rd street, it's easy to miss Sakagura, especially if you're unfamiliar with the lit sidewalk signs that are ubiquitous in Japan. A couple of turns and a flight of stairs and you're transported into what must be authentic Japan - right down to the ethnically Japanese staff.
As we were seated at the bar, our friendly hostess guided us through the sake selections and we started ordering. Sake, sake and more sake. Much of it delicious. Much of it I didn't understand. There's a whole world and etiquette surrounding sake and I've still got a lot more to learn.
What can be said? The images above speak loudly. The sashimi was excellent. The toro beautifully fatty and silky on the mouth, the uni unbearably sweet. Freshly grated wasabi - a grown man should cry. The flavors were delicate and balanced. To my mind, Japanese food is about nuance and subtlety and Sakagura delivers.
The cod was wonderfully buttery and the mackerel grilling on the hoba leaf was a first. My only concern was the pork belly that was cooked perfectly but so large that it made negotiating with chopsticks a bit difficult.
Before long I was ejected back out onto the New York streets, in cool early autumn air with images of Tokyo dancing in my mind.
211 East 43 Street
New York, New York 10017