ROM Outing 1: Sakagura

16 01 2009

So this category name I’ve created  doesn’t mean that we forced a secretly gay gypsy out of the closet, but since the word “meeting” is too formal and “gathering” has dorky fantasy game connotations (ala “Magic the Gathering)  I went with “outing.”

Restaurant of the Month’s inaugural get together took place in October 2008 and went swimmingly. One could even say we began with a “boom” as Sakagura really is fantastic.

A lot of the online reviewers’ complaints about this place took issue with the fact that it does not have sushi.  Since mediocre, overpriced sushi joints are a dime a dozen in NYC such whiners are welcome to go to Teriyaki Boy (which has its time and place). If one is in the market for california rolls then Sakagura is not the place to go. I would classify Sakagura as an upscale Izakaya as the menu features small side dishes designed to accompany drink. The sake list is extensive and quite good. I’m not incredibly knowledgeable about sake but I do know I like it dry and cold.

As you can tell from the image, Sakagura is quite cosy on the inside and would make a good date spot. But it’s worth mentioning that it is located at the basement of an unassuming office building. Because there is another more readily accessible Japanese restaurant very close it would be easy to go to the wrong one. At the bottom of a flight of nondescript stairs the hallway feeds into a warmly lit vestibule which itself feeds into a tastefully designed dining room.

Gorgeous, isn't it?

Gorgeous, isn't it?

As we trickled into the restaurant, we were ushered into a cozy booth that was a little too cozy for our purposes  since there were 7 of us. This was a bit annoying since I’d made a reservation for that number in advance. Luckily the food made up for it. ROM member Roman quizzed our waitress on sake choices leaving her to suggest a bottle that turned out to be divine, albeit pricey: I believe it was around $50. Very crisp! Kind of like the Grant you fork over for it! We plowed through two before switching to a less expensive but tasty sake. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of what we drank as it was several months ago though for future outings I will be sure to be more diligent about such things. For sake connoisseurs, a full list of food and drink offerings are available on the website.

We ordered a mess of plates, in some cases ordering two or more of what we thought would be tasty. I liked the way the dishes were served in that all of our cold dishes came out first, then the table was cleared and the hot dishes were served. There were some real winners and I don’t think anything was sub-par. The star of the night was definitely the onsen tamago: sea urchin, a soft boiled egg and a sprinkling of salmon roe in what tasted like cold dashi broth. Wow. Spectacular. The Ika Shiokara, cured squid in a squid liver maranade was salty,  savory and unusual and the roasted duck was lovely. The tuna sashimi with natto wasn’t bad for those who are into natto (fermented soybean paste) but I think I was expecting the natto to be a little saltier and less mucousy. As for the hot dishes the stewed diced pork really stood out.

To jog my memory a bit I called on ROM member Roman to send me his thoughts.  Here they are in appropriate sensuosity:

ahh ha, sakagura – in undaground office building basement but clean and crisp and waiting for us. we should have sat at a larger table and i loved the egg soup twice. i loved the 5 or six bottles of sake and mispronouncing whahanamasaki’s name. i loved katie’s warm ass on the passenger seat and ash’s hand on my lap. we talked of joey’s trumpet and ate amberjack. maya laughed contagiously and we all devoured everything, the food, the drink one another’s attention and the joy of being together. would go back again. and then we ended up at lucy’s. right, is that what happened?

I truly couldn’t have summed things up better.  On the scientific rating system I’ve just thought up on the spot, I’d like to give Sakagura 7 out of 7 empty bottles of wine. That signifies a fun time had with friends. Sakagura. BOOM!




One response

18 01 2009
katie blankenship

I think Roman and Maya (aka Simple M) have summed this first meeting of the foodie minds up nicely. Sakagura was the perfect launch to what has become an almost religious monthly outing of pure, perfect, passionate debauchery. The only thing I might add to those curious about Sakagura, is the incredible staff. We were taken care of by a lovely waitress (Roman, what was her name?) so kindly and attentively it was as if we were her loud, drunk, lost children come home again in search the sweet tit of sake, sake, sake.
Sakagura is not to be missed, although without the company of our devilish Russians, Simple M, that sweet Ash, and Saxophonia Jo, it really can’t be the same. Till next time!

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