6 Awesome Izakayas in NYC
Japan’s been on our travel wish list for as long as we can remember. (Ramen road trip = the dream.) But finding a good time to take two weeks off work (not to mention coughing up $800-plus for airfare) keeps getting in the way of our vacation goals. Fortunately, we have something to tide us over until then: NYC’s many iterations of the izakaya, the Japanese tavern centered around sake, beer and lots of shareable plates. Here are five of our favorites.
This brand-new spot, helmed by a sake sommelier and former wd~50 chef, serves up just the kind of creative-but-somehow-familiar dishes we could snack on all day, like a baguette with kombu butter and smoked salt, and corn on the cob with bonito and Parmesan.
439 Third Ave.; 929-367-8607 or oka.nyc
Sake Bar Hagi
There are a few things you need to know about this popular spot: It’s in a basement in the middle of Times Square, and it has a ginormous menu that includes pizza tempura. But we prefer to stick with the creamy mentai pasta and an assortment of yakitori.
152 W. 49th St.; irohagroup.com
Take one part sexy date-night vibes, one part incredible food (get the oh-so-fluffy okonomiyaki) and one part creative drinks like a cherry-blossom martini and matcha-sesame punch and you have this LES cocktail den.
245 Eldridge St.; 212-475-4411 or bargoto.com
Tokyo Record Bar
This newly opened underground hideaway (downstairs from Air’s Champagne Parlor) is inspired by Tokyo’s popular temples of vinyl and whiskey, and features a stunning flowered ceiling, a seven-course tasting menu and plenty of old-school jams—diners even get to help curate the playlist.
127 Macdougal St.; tokyorecordbar.com
Tucked inside Fort Greene restaurant Walter’s you’ll find this elegant dining room, which quickly outgrew its “secret” status thanks to ridiculously tasty eats (like sake-steamed clams and Caesar salad with soy-cured egg and burnt lemon) and drinks (like the Daydream, made with nigori sake, green tea and coconut).
166 Dekalb Ave., Brooklyn; 347-223-4811 or karasubk.com
This downtown sake bar has a cozy, intimate feel (maybe because the space it’s in used to be an apartment). Don’t miss the torikushi (fried chicken with green-tea salt); oden, a traditional soul-warming soup made with dashi broth; and a mind-blowing selection of sake—if you’re not sure where to start, one of the sommeliers will be happy to guide you.
151 Rivington St.; 212-777-7253 or yopparainyc.com