One of things that makes Sake Bar Hagi special beyond its wonderful and reasonably priced selection of rice wine is, well, the specials. To be sure, this subterranean izakaya in midtown offers all the usual suspects, including lots of yakitori, to go with your libation of choice, be it sake, shochu or beer. Look beyond the menu though, and you'll be rewarded, just as Gothamist was during our last two visits.
At top of the list of specials are usually four or five items that are called out for special recognition as the "daily best." These tend to run out fast, so rather than dilly dally when something catches your eye, we recommend ordering it immediately. Here's a look at two items we were quite glad to snag before they ran out.
What you see on the left may look like chicken tenders, but it's actually a generous serving of anago, or sea eel tempura, with citrus salt. And, no, it doesn't taste like chicken. The flesh of the eel itself is surprisingly delicate and creamy, and most important, expertly fried. We like to use just a tiny bit of the citrus salt so as not to overwhelm the flavor of the anago. On the right is a platter of what the specials board calls "yellowtail carpaccio Japanese style." Gothamist would like to know the precise Japanese translation. The meaty hunks of fish are far too thick to be carpaccio. We'd like to think that the Japanese name for this creation is something along the lines of: insanely huge chunks of fish marinated in coriander and red pepper draped over julienned daikon salad. Lately we've been drinking the wonderfully crisp maihime, with our grub at Hagi. At $5 a glass, it's a steal.
Sake Bar Hagi, 52 W. 49th St., 212-764-8549