Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hagi Sake Bar, Manhattan, NYC

One of the things on the top of my list when I first arrived in Manhattan was to find a good izakaya joint that would allow my continual indulgence in good sumiyaki fare and the likes. A good friend and colleague of mine recommended a pretty much known secret in the Theater District - Hagi. I don't think this post will add any more publicity than it already has as I've waited before for a table for almost an hour at 1am on a Friday night.

Here are some nicely fried tempura shimeji mushrooms to start our little supper. The batter was a bit heavier and greasier than Tenshin but still very delicious indeed.

This has got to be my favorite here. Pretty much one of my favorites at any place proficient at grilled items on a stick is the fatty pork belly. Nicely charred and simply seasoned with some salt and a drop of lemon juice (to cut through the fat, so it's all healthy now you see), it's all you need to indulge in this tasty morsel.

Here's a sardine stuffed with mentaiko before being grilled. I love mentaiko in any permutation so this was right down my alley.

Kawa; grilled salted chicken skins. That's right, chicken skins.., the stuff some people peel off their KFC to make that piece of oil soaked chicken healthier. This stuff is delicious. Some of the tastiest things in life are the simplest.

Grilled squid with a drizzle of teriyaki sauce. Grilled just enough to remain tender and not too rubbery, this was good squid.

Now this was an odd one. It was a special advertised as grilled sun-dried squid. It tasted a little bit like those dried cuttlefish snacks but slightly warm... the bonito flakes on it were more a gimmick than anything else. It just tasted very ordinary to me and for 8usd for 4 bite-sized pieces, I was expecting a little bit more.

Deep fried pork belly. Not too bad albeit slightly dry. I still prefer the grilled version on the stick.

Now this I like, probably not something everyone would love but these deep fried chicken gizzards were quite delectable indeed. One serving gives you a pretty large bowl of these crunchy fried pieces but don't count on that thin piece of paper to absorb all the oil, oh I mean juice.

Some more bite-sized snacks. These croquettes were each filled with a nice blob of cheese which melted very nicely when deep-fried.

After a few deep-fried items, my palate begged for something with a cleaner taste. Bonito tataki served with crispy garlic bits, raw onions and a tangy sauce (tasted abit like ponzu). This stuff is very addictive, I've known people to order more than one serve of this at every sitting.

Back to another round of real meat. The grilled beef short ribs were also not too bad but nothing spectacular.

Starting our round of "fillers" was this okonomiyaki on a hotplate. This is perhaps one of the better ones in Manhattan and I've definitely had worst but I've had better as well.

Grilled onigiri was up next. These are like jumbo sized, so it's good for sharing. I think this was filled with salmon.

Last but not least was a seafood yakisoba. Now this almost pushed us over the edge, a very filling mix of noodles and an assortment of seafood. Greasy and savory, this wasn't much to brag about but it certainly did its role as a good filler.

Hagi is definitely one of the better (and more affordable, it's hard for two people to spend more than 80usd here - excluding alcohol) izakaya joints in Manhattan. But that being said, I still miss Kazu.