Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ML HH: Hagi Saki Bar

Every month, the avid readers of Midtown Lunch get together for happy hour. In the past, it's been an excuse to meet random strangers and bond over drinks. Now, it's evolved into hanging with weirdos and bonding over food. And so here's Midtown Lunch Happy Hours.

For this ML HH, we went to: Hagi Sake Bar

The key to Hagi Sake Bar is to arrive early and score a table. For a large table, you'll need at least 3 people. They won't seat you otherwise. Thankfully, some people arrived by 6pm to get the last big table. Once more people wandered in, we ordered lots of food, beer, and specialty cocktails.

Here's an order of fried gyoza which had a crispy bottom. The filling was mediocre but tasty. Nothing crazy good but not bad either.

I think this was a special that  night which was grilled blue fin tuna. The meat was really tender but I didn't think it deserved to warrant the price (which I forgot). It's good enough to order once but it's definitely not a repeat dish.

I think this is tuna sashimi which looked amazingly fresh. I don't think I tried any of this but it certainly looked good.
The fried tofu was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The bonito flakes on top danced around due to the heat rising from the cubes. I liked this. It was simple and good, especially with a dip in soy sauce.
For some barbecue treats, we ordered some pork belly and quail eggs. I didn't try the belly but I thought the eggs were overcooked. The yolk became chalky.
Here's a closer look at the pork belly skewer. Layers of meat and mostly fat. Who doesn't like fat?
Here's another skewer with asparagus wrapped in bacon. This was pretty good. The bacon here was a little more cooked. Therefore making the fat more rendered and crispier.
We also ordered some grilled eggplant which turned out to be really good. At first, we were skeptical  but as we dug in, it was really flavorful. The texture was soft but the charred surface helped.
We got another bacon wrapped item (go figure), but I can't remember what it was! Ack, this post is becoming a sign of me being a bad blogger and not taking notes. Sorry!
But these are easily identifiable: clams. There were just okay. They didn't have much flavor, I thought. And 4 to an order is quite cheap. Oh well. Now we know.
And here's some fried garlic which turned out to be awesome! These little nuggets were coated and deep fried to a point where the cloves melted. The accompanying hot sauce was pretty good too. This is a dish to get again.
And here an order of their famous yellow collar, a special that day. It was a skimpy piece though. And you can see it was charred. Normally, this is pretty tasty but on this night it was lackluster.
A new dish for me, the fried chicken. The crispy battered chicken was topped with shaving of daikon and soy sauce. It was pretty good. The chicken was really crispy.
And here's some fried squid which was actually pretty light and crispy. It needed more flavor though. A heavy hand of salt and pepper would have worked really well here.
Getting tired of small appetizers, we ordered an okonomiyaki which is a pancake-type dish with cabbage and your choice of meat. It usually comes with a sweet sauce on top and bonito flakes. The pancake itself is supposed to be pan fried crispy. This was a little of the soft side. However, I liked the filling. A good combination of vegetables and meat.
Here's another entree. This one is pork belly sitr fried with green beans and sprouts. It was okay. The pork belly needed to be crispier. I don't really enjoy really soft bacon that hasn't had the fat rendered.
And lastly, we ordered some yaki udon which are stir fried thick noodles. This one came with chicken which was pretty dry. The different sizes of chopped vegetables, chicken slices, and noodles kind of made this hard to eat. But tasty, yes.
I really enjoyed coming here again. The service can be spotty, the crowds can be epic, and the food can be meh, I still enjoy the good points which are: cheap alcohol, people just enjoying themselves, and certain good food.

Thanks to everyone coming out that night and making my day special!

Hagi Sake Bar
152 West 49th Street
New York, NY 10020
(212) 764-8549

1 comment:

  1. i like this place a lot :] the price is relatively cheap compared to everything else around there and i never had spotty service-but that's probably cause i know one of the waiters. ask for adi if there is a next time. he's super nice!

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