Rio & You
I need to make a plug for this Japanese restaurant on 45th between 8th & 9th Aves and do not understand why it is so underrated when sake bar hagi and other ruffier izakaya types get frequent mentions. I've been there twice in the last two weeks and have enjoyed my meals very much. While the menu reads like a standard neighborhood Japanese restaurant that sells everything under the sky, it was a pretty big chinese-japanese appetizers that are similar to the izakaya styled foods, and everything I've tried so far has been decent to very good. The fried chicken in particular is very well marinated and moist, even for the breast. Buta Kimchi is a huge plate of fried pork and kimchi that's perfect with beer, as it the kurobuta sausages. I was craving something soupy last night and the zousui (rice stew) with chicken and egg ala a very wet oyakodon really hit the spot.
Portions border on gigantic, with the ramen served in basin-like bowls. Cannot comment on the taste though, since the last time I had the ramen was in December. The sushi is garden variety but the fish is fresh. Service is great too, and they even serve little cute plates of cut fruit with your bill.
So the next time you're thinking for japanese pub food in a nicer environment, do consider Rio & You.
Ryoyu has been my place for nabemono (hotpot) during the cold weather months. They serve one of the better yosenabes I've had around town, though they are a little stingy with the broth when you want a refill. I didn't care for their small plate/izakaya type dishes very much, but you're right that it's probably on par or better than what you get at Hagi. Hagi isn't really a food destination, but they have the best prices on shochu and beer around midtown, and they are generous with the food portions, which are the real draws.