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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.

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NY izakayas LIST1
Oka/Facebook

Oka

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

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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

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Bar Goto

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

NY izakayas LIST4
Noah Fecks

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

NY izakayas LIST5
Karasu

Karasu

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

NY izakayas LIST6
Yopparai/Facebook

Yopparai

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

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