Midtown Happy Hour: Sake Bar Hagi
If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week, our Happy Hour Correspondent “Mamacita” will post about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap. Today she writes about one of my favorite places in all of New York City, and surprisingly it’s in the heart of Midtown!
It seems like everyone knows about Sake Bar Hagi. This little Izakaya, on 49th btw. 6+7th, has been continuously packed since being reviewed in the New York Times in 2006, and even more unbearable since being profiled by Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel last year. Though there is little that hasn’t already been covered in other reviews, we just had to include it in our list of the best places in midtown to drink and eat for cheap! And with most small bites coming in at under $4, how could we not!?!
Sake Bar Hagi is all about the drinking and “appetizers”. Multitudes invade its wooden tables to eat small plates of Japanese craziness and drink wells of beer, sake and shochu after a long workday. The wait for a table is long and the service can be slow- but if you get there early enough, and end up with a table, it’s completely worth it.
Zach highly recommended the yellowtail collar and the sauteed chicken gizzards with garlic sprouts, but they didn’t have either when we went, so we decided to take on some grilled skewer action: chicken skin, duck, pork belly, liver and bacon wrapped asparagus. All are priced between $1.50-$2.50.
To wash it down there were more than a few pints of Sapporo and Kirin beer ($10 a pitcher), some hot sake ($4 for a small) and a peach sour shochu ($4). Also sampled was a wasabi octopus appetizer and a salmon rice ball, both a steal at $3 each. In retrospect we clearly should have taken down some more food. The menu had lots to offer, including some really tasty looking specials- like fried eel. If you do end up ordering the yakitori make sure you ask for it well done, as our pork belly and chicken skin could have been crispier. Zach told me afterwards that yakitori is not really what Hagi is known for, and if you want that you are better off going to Yakitori Totto (on the West side) or Torys on ths East side. Information that would have been helpful on TUESDAY!!!
In any case, no one combines ample booze and cheap midtown lunch’ish food better than Hagi, and I know Zach has been dying for this to be a “Midtown Lunch” since he started the site three years ago- but unfortunately they are only open after work. So until they follow in Bon Chon’s “now we’re open for lunch” lead, it will have to remain in my happy hour domain!
THE + (What somebody who loves this place would say)
- Delicious Japanese small plates and most for under $5
- Inexpensive beer and alcohol
- Lively atmosphere
- I love beef liver sashmi (yes, they serve raw, thinly sliced beef liver!)
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Long wait for a table and slow service due to the amount of people
- There are better Izakaya in Midtown for some things, like Yakitori
- I would never eat raw squid and gizzards!
Sake Bar Hagi, 152 West 49th Street, Lower Level (btw. 6+7th), 212-764-8549
Post and photos by Mamacita.