I had no clue what at Izakaya was until a few days ago, when we decided to go to one for a late night dinner after arriving in NYC around 11:30 pm. Here is the official Wikipedia definition… An izakaya (居酒屋) is a type of Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks. They are casual places for after-work drinking.Sake Bar Hagi was one of those tapas-ish izakayas. It had great reviews, and was only a few blocks from us. It sounded perfect! We finally found the place after passing by it. It was slightly hidden next to a sushi bar. You walk to the basement and enter this tiny space. Luckily, they had one table available, it was packed!
We were amazed by the menu, which was huge and had pictures of almost every single item. We ordered some sake (large house sake only $7) and started on the food parade.
The first dish was one of my favorites of the night. It was bits of crispy fried chicken in a refreshingly cool sauce made with (I think) ginger, radish, and green onions. I was putting this sauce on everything the whole night.
Next was the best Gyoza I have ever had in my life! It was super crispy on the outside, and melt in your mouth porky goodness on the inside.
Third up was the Yakitori sampler plate. It had pork belly, chicken, chicken meatballs, peppers, and one thing which I think was pork? Anyway… they were ALL good. I was a little scared of the pepper, but it just had a hint of spice. I think my fave of the group was the chicken meatball.
Unfortunately my good fortune with picking out our items made a turn for the worse. I love eel sushi, so when I saw the tempura eel I immediately wanted it. The tempura part was good, but the eel was really fishy. Booo!! I only took a couple bites.
Now we are up to our biggest dish of the night… Pork Belly on sticky rice with pickled vegetables. They overdid it on the pickled veg IMO, but otherwise the pork belly and rice were fantastic.
Last but not least, I give you Octopus Balls! To me it seemed like it was a ball of mashed potatoes stuffed with bite size chunks of octopus. The more I ate it, the more I loved it. It was super crispy, and ultra creamy. The octopus was cooked well and had a fresh taste. The only thing I didn’t get was the lump of radish (?) on the side. It was so bland.
It was such a great dining experience! Plus, it is pretty inexpensive for New York standards. They have lots of options to choose from, and if I ever get the pleasure of going there again I will be making room in my tummy for all the tastiness.
Have you ever eaten eel or octopus?