Midtown Happy Hour: Kirakuya Has $20 Sapporo Bucket and Wing Special

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 posts 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.

I was meeting some colleagues for drinks last week, and the only criterion I had regarding locale was that it needed to be in or around Koreatown. I threw out a few options, including Kirakuya (32nd btw. Broadway and 5th), a Japanese sake bar also serving lunch, that Clay spotted in 2010. (He did a great write up on lunch there shortly thereafter, might I add.) One of my buddies mentioned she hadn’t been to a sake bar in a while, so Kirakuya seemed to be the obvious choice.

Getting there is fun… almost all of us had a little trouble finding it. It’s on the second floor of a Koreatown building. You first have to take an elevator, and when you step off, it’s still kind of confusing because the first thing you see are bathrooms. The entrance is to your right. The interior is surprisingly classy given that its decorated with sake labels and bottles. They manage to make it look more like a restaurant than a frat house, and I personally liked the decor and dimly lit feel of the place quite a bit.

When you sit down, the super cute Japanese girl behind the bar brings out a hot towel to wipe off your hands. Nice touch. The restaurant had an extensive menu of sake, most of which was far out of my price range. But I was there for the $20 beer bucket and wing special. The deal is: $20 for 5 Sapporo bottled beers and five Nagoya style wings, or $25 for 5 Yebishu bottled beers with five wings. You can get additional wings for $1 per wing. It goes on from 5-7 and 11:00 – close Monday – Saturday.

Of course I got the cheaper option, and I’ve always been a Sapporo fan anyway. They brought out the bucket right away, and the Sapporos were cold and on ice. They also had a little cloth with Japanese characters to mop up the water from the ice. Another nice touch.

The Nagoya style wings were great. They obviously weren’t Buffalo style and never claimed to be, so I won’t give them a full B-wing treatment. Nagoya is the fourth most populated urban area in Japan. These type of wings are also known as tebasaki, or chicken wings marinated in a sweet sauce with sesame seeds according to the wikipedia page section on Nagoya’s cuisine. They were great — they had a nice sweet-salty-sesame flavor with sticky sauce on some very juicy chicken wings. I only asked for the free five wings since I had dinner plans later, but I don’t think it would be out of order to add another five for a dollar a wing. It would still be a good deal. They have a several other interesting appetizers on the menu under $10, like fried burdock, or thistle sticks (ouch!), deep fried tofu, french fries, flat bread with bacon and seasonal vegetables, and what appeared to be a Japanese style ceviche (to name a few).

If you’re not a beer drinker, the sake menu is extensive. The most reasonably priced bottles were between $40 AND $50 for a 720 mL bottle (the cheaper bottles are most easily recognized by a red stamp on the menu that says “Recommended”, although some more expensive bottles are also recommended.) That’s just 30 mL less than a bottle of wine, but the ABV is higher in sake.

If you’re not interested in a whole bottle, there are a few options for sake cocktails, but none are part of the special. My friend had a yuzu sake cocktail, and she gave it high praise.

And here’s an added bonus! If you’re eager to learn about the sake-making process, Kirakuya features a very informative chart on their menu.

Lunch’ers, unless you have a problem with not drinking sake at a sake bar, I personally recommend the beer special. Although happy hour is only on for two hours after work, I still think it’s a decent deal.

The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • There’s something awesome about entering a bar through dingy halls and elevators, only to be transported to Japanese alcohol land. I’m a fan.
  • I like happy hour deals, and this five Sapporo bottle special with five free Nagoya style wings ain’t bad. It ain’t bad at all.
  • It’s nice to go somewhere other than another Irish or American style pub for a change. I’m sick of that boring shit. This is much more interesting.
  • Even though these aren’t Buffalo style wings, Nagoya style wings sure are good!

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • This is a sake bar. Where are the sake specials? Fail.
  • I’m not really keen on Japanese beer or food. Bring me back to O’Somebody’s.
  • The after work happy hour is only two hours long. I’ve called this out before and I’ll do it again. Too short!

Kirakuya Sake Bar, 2 West 32nd Street, 2F, 212-695-7272


  • ok so it’s a sake joint serving japanese food. you’re not keen on japanese food or beer….why’d you review this spot? this spot is the shit by the way.

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