Sakagura means “sake warehouse” in Japanese and this restaurant serves more than 200 different varieties of sake. It is probably one of the most popular Japanese restaurants in Midtown at this time. When I moved to NYC, most people I know, both Japanese and American, referred and suggested this restaurant to me. I visited several times and quickly understood why: great location just a few minutes from Grand Central, nice atmosphere, and a wonderful selection of sake and cuisine. And many Japanese businesses are located in the area which means this restaurant has to meet the expectations of their salary men and women and their visiting colleagues. But this location is favored by more than just Japanese clientele — scanning the crowd on a busy weekend night revealed many non-Japanese — and a full house.
When I had a guest visiting from out of town, my first choice was to dine at Sakagura for the above reasons. My friend worked in Tokyo for several years as an Expatriate and loves Japanese food, however, he does not eat any type of seafood. Sakagura is a great choice for this type of customer. We ordered several grilled dishes such as fried chunks of chicken marinated in sake and ginger and infused soy sauce (Tori Karaage), beef steak (self cooked on a hot stone!) and stewed diced pork (Buta Kakuni) . But I couldn’t go without Sakagura’s tuna tartar (chopped tuna with flying fish roe and steeped in Yuzu and Caviar).
There is a common perception that Japanese food only equals sushi. For example, when I suggest Japanese for lunch with an officemate or dinner with friends, I often receive a “sorry, I don’t eat seafood” reply. This may be because many restaurants over-emphasize sushi and sashimi, or perhaps non-seafood items are hidden within their menu. Sakagura does an excellent job of setting the record straight — while there are indeed delicious sushi choices available, there are also many other traditional dishes worth ordering.
Price: $160 for our selection including two beers and tip
Dinning alone: Slightly uncomfortable especially on weekends, however counter space is available if you prefer to dine solo
Dress code: Smart casual; I would say Sakagura is higher end Izakaya