Anthony Bourdain, as many people know, is kind of a hero to me. And by kind of, I mostly mean I am endlessly envious of his job. Eating my way around the world is, unfortunately, something I must do on my own dime. He on the other hand gets to do it for free. Luckily each week I get to watch and live vicariously by watching him on television. When in New York, he went to an underground sake bar. Seeing as B and I love sake and this sounded cool, we decided to check it out and see if Tony (that’s right, we are on a first name basis) really was eating as well as he made us believe. Hagi Sake Bar allowed me to retain my everlasting faith in Tony, that the man knows what he is talking about, at least when it comes to food.
As we were seated, we chose a few sake bottles and prepared to ask our waitress about them. They were out of both of them. This seemed like a bad sign, since there were only about 10 listed on the menu and they were out of the two we had wanted. We needn’t have worried, this woman was like a sake sommelier. She brought over a ring of cards describing various sakes, pointed out two that would be in the same vein as those we had chosen from the menu, then brought over a bottle of each and gave us tastes. She would later do this again when we bought a second bottle of sake. All of the sakes were delectable, and quite reasonably priced.
Also a reasonable price was the food. We came in here planning only to drink, but were quickly distracted and dazzled by the chalkboards full of amazing sounding specials. Starting with the sea urchin sashimi. We had just come from sea urchin at Momofuku Ssam Bar, which was amazing quality urchin, but overly done up. This was a slightly less good piece of fish, but simply prepared, over daikon. We enjoyed it. We moved on to a decent serving of spicy cod roe (not a dish for everyone, as it is lightly spicy and extremely salty). We had a skewer of pork belly, which is not the best way, we decided, that one can prepare a pork belly and we had some reasonably good takoyaki. Then out came the clincher. It was off the cuff, out of the blue, that we decided to order beef liver sashimi. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Sliced thinly, there is only a hint of that liver taste, just enough to make you smile. It comes with a dipping sauce of sesame oil and daikon, as well as add-ons of garlic, ginger and onions. It was, with any combination of these items, a sublime, melt in your mouth, amazing sliver of a treat. I’m still dreaming of happy little slices of beef liver sashimi making their way to my mouth.