Posted by: Jeffsayyes | July 5, 2010

Judy Ruminates… Sakagura – Japanese in Midtown

Here’s Judy with her review of Sakagura. Seems like a sake paradise, but I want that eel. –Jeffrey Tastes

Categories: Japanese
Neighborhood: Midtown East
211 E 43rd Street
Basement #1
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10017
(212) 953-7253

There are few places in the city where you can say you went to the bathroom in a sake barrel. Thankfully, that’s the only hokey you’ll find in this restaurant. If you’re looking for love in a sake bottle, you’re in the right place. They have tons of sake here. There are bottles are lined up against the wall like a beauty pageant, but those are just the display models. The real sake is hidden away in the cabinetry underneath with pull-up trapdoors.

Sakagura- bar seating

The izakaya food is delicious and if that’s your aim, you should go for dinner when they have more of a selection. Hubby and I came for lunch this time around and discovered that the lunch menu is very different. They focus more on “sets” and regular entrees. For appetizers, we got pike mackerel rice ball (done in reverse with the mackerel wrapping the rice) and chicken meatballs. Deep down, no one really loves smelly oily fish, and if you say you do, then you’re missing some olfactory neurons. This one was passable when combined with sticky sushi rice. The chicken meatballs were tender with sweet sauce on top, second only to the great and powerful meatballs at Yakitori Totto.

pike mackerel rice ball (sanma onigiri):

chicken meatballs (tsukune):

For the main meal, we had eel over rice and chicken with raw egg and onions over rice. The eel was the tastier pick. The chicken was bland and needed brining or something to give it some energy. Be warned that these dishes come in HUGE bowls of rice. We were game, trying to pack away the rice, but there was no way. We ended up having room for only one delicious scoop of sea salt chocolate sorbet to share and boy was I regretful when I realized how good it was.

eel (unagi don):

chicken and egg over rice (oyako don):

sea salt chocolate sorbet:

—-Judy Ruminates

Critic’s pick on NY Mag
NYT equates it to a speakeasy
Great pics and review from Food Mayhem
Daily lunch menu
320 reviews on yelp
nice, extensive review from donuts4dinner gives it some reviews


  1. Thanks for the link!

    We love the meatballs at Totto, too. Have you tried the ones at Sake Bar Hagi? They’re a little more bready, but I’m not complaining.

  2. I’ve had tsukune in a number of Japanese places, including Hagi, but I like Totto’s version the best.

  3. On the debate of tsukune balls, torishin is the best , hands down.

    I’m saddened that you did not enjoy the sanma, it is a japanese delicacy. I happen to love it with some aged junmai.

    Hagi is great, just stay on his good side.
    ha, kanpai

  4. It’s important to begin a search on a full stomach.

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