I love Izakaya, and have been to a few of them in NYC and in Japan. The thing about Izakaya is that they are mostly open for dinner or late night. If they are open during lunch, they have regular lunch menu instead of Izakaya style menu, which is more like tapas, or small plates of food that you can share with others with. I was so happy when I found out that Sake Bar Hagi 46, an Izakaya, offers the Izakaya menu during lunch time! Even though they are located in Hell’s Kitchen, with their delightful menu, they are the “Heaven’s Kitchen” – how awesome is that?
The inside was nice and large, much larger than it looks from outside. The first thing you see is their T-shirts on sale on the wall, and cute I Heart NY of their own version. One side of the wall is all brick, and it is carried out all the way to the back of the restaurant.
The front section of the restaurant has a large bar with bar counter, and several tables and chairs.
After you pass the bar, there are more table seating at the back with TVs for sports viewing. They have good amount of space, not too cramped either. The design was more simple, not much decorations on the wall around the back area, but had few autographs from some celebrities who dined there.
They have windows at the front of the restaurant, but they had nice amount of lighting throughout, so it didn’t feel dark at all. Another thing was that they had many of the old-fashioned beer advertisement at the front part of the restaurants, which I always liked.
These ads from long ago are very popular among Japanese Izakaya-style restaurants, and they are always fun to look at. These are Asahi and Sapporo Beer advertisement, very elegant and pretty, especially against the brick wall, it really brings out that “antique” feel to it.
We started off with hot green tea, which was free, and free refill. I always appreciate those places where they offer green tea for free. Thank you Hagi!
We wanted to try several kinds of dishes here, so we ordered a few things to “start.” The first thing we ordered was Pizza Tempura ($6). Yes, you read correctly, Pizza Tempura. Who would’ve thought to fry up a slice of pizza? Well, they did, and they have executed it perfectly! It was crunchy on the outside, not greasy, and when you cut it (or bite it), you get this nice cheesy goodness in the inside. It was very interesting, and very tasty!
Then, we moved onto Ebiten Kushi ($4), which is shrimp tempura skewer with spicy mayonnaise. The problem is that they forgot the spicy mayo on top, so I had to get our waitress to take it back to the kitchen so that they can add it on there. There was only 1 waitress, so it took a while to get her attention before we could get this dish to be “completed.” At the end, it was ok, about the time we got to eat it, it was no longer hot… The shrimp was plump and lightly fried. The mayo had nice flavor, but I wish it had just a little bit more on it.
We also ordered Omusoba ($10), which is stir fried yakisoba noodle and pork, wrapped by omlet with okonomiyaki sauce and mayo. We were so intrigued and excited by this dish. When it was delivered to our table, we were so surprised by the size. It was huge! I couldn’t believe the generous portion, it was really large amount. The yakisoba was nice, had good flavor, and egg added that extra flavor that made it interesting. Perfect comfort food.
The last thing we ordered was the most interesting item we found, Natto Jako Pasta ($12), which comes with natto and crispy baby sardines. You have to love natto, or fermented beans, to love this dish. As a natto lover, I enjoyed this dish tremendously. It had nice saltiness from the baby sardines, and of course, the natto was great, and mixed all that with pasta…whoever came up with this menu must be super creative and adventurous! I never had anything like it, and I would love to have it again.
After these items, we were so full that we could not order any more. The waitress was a Japanese lady, who was very kind and polite, but it felt like she needed more help to take care of all the tables (which wasn’t that many) with proper attention. However, I have to mention, there was one table two older American ladies, who had many questions about the menu. The most offerings are authentic, and also very unique, so if you are not familiar with Japanese food or Izakaya menu, then you might not understand the menu too well. So, our waitress had to spend extra time with them to explain and answer all of their questions. The hostess was not so nice or friendly, who was helping out the floor just a little bit. Maybe it would have been so much better if she helped out more, as it was a slow time when we were there. I would definitely go back there fore more of their fun and tasty creations!
Sake Bar Hagi 46 – 358 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036