What to order at Sakagura?
Going to Sakagura tomorrow night with some friends in town for a wedding. Smaller group - 5 people. But I've never been. And although I hear nothing but good things, the menu is long and I want to make sure my guests leave satisfied... aaaandd... that my foodie palate is fulfilled. Everything sounds good... but can someone help me narrow it down?
Sakagura does have many dishes. What you order depends on what you and your people like. The dishes are small so you can order many and try many things. Here is what I typically order there for 2 people:
hiyayakko ( tofu)
ika shiokara ( squid w fermented liver ) good with sake or shochu
mentaiko ( spicy cod roe) good with sake or shochu
shiromi nanban (fried white fish vinegar)
kamo (roast duck)
uzaku ( grilled eel)
maguro tartare ( tuna tartare wth tobiko)
sanma onigiri (rice balls wrapped in pike mackeral)
ebi shinjo ( shrimp balls)
chawanmushi ( egg custard)
tori tsukune ( chicken balls teriyaki)
Ask if any specials
I think around 10 dishes for 2 people is good ,,, maybe other CH'ers will modify that
Perfect!!!! Thanks so much. My taste is probably more eclectic and I prefer anything different. My guests, although less daring, are open to trying new things so long as the risk offers a high pay off :)
Thanks again - I took one look at the menu and just didn't know where to start!
My husband and I love to bring out of town visitors to Sakagura when they come to NYC. We usually pick about 3-4 dishes per person (sometimes with more than one of the things we like).
Some of our favorites are...
hirame ponzu (fluke with ponzu vinaigrette)
tofu salad (simple but very good as a simpler early cold dish)
sanshoku nasu dengaku (eggplant with 3 types of miso)
onsen tamago (soft boiled egg with sea urchin and salmon roe)
kamo roast (duck wrapped around scallions with basil sauce)
last time we had a bamboo special that was really interesting and unique
things we didn't like so much - jaga dango (mashed potatoes in donut batter), maguro yamakake (maybe mountain yam just isn't our taste)
We always try a lot of different sakes (I prefer the plum wines) and desserts. Any of the desserts with black sesame (either black sesame ice cream or the sesame/black sesame cookies on top) are my personal favorites.
I also love to bring out-of-town guests to Sakaugra. The portion size is quite small, so you can order and try lots of different dishes. I love that, especially with guests, since you can order "safe" (for my guests, usually) and "adventurous" dishes without having to commit to either. foodwhisperer and jessbnjess covered most of my favorites - chawanmushi, onsen tamago, Japanese eggplants, etc. Also check out the daily special on the front of the menu, I tend to order at least a couple items from it. I'm also a huge fan of their desserts, especially black sesame creme brulee, but I've never had one I didn't like. If you like Asian desserts, you must order desserts.
I agree with foodwhisperer on the mentaiko - they really have an excellent version there (perhaps tell you guests this is spicy caviar?). And agree with jessbnjess on the pork belly (one piece per person is more than enough).
Last time i was there (couple weeks ago) they had a snow crab rice special that was great. Super high quality rice with snow crab imparting a subtle flavor. This dish really epitomizes my impression of the best of Japanese cooking.
Also great is the chawanmushi - a must get (one per person).
Further dishes I usually find agreeable are the eggplant trio, the tori karaage (fried chicken), the fluke carpaccio (if you ask for spoon so you can get all the goodies in one bite), and the chicken meatballs.
I found the magura natto rather unpleasant. It turns out I'm in the camp of people who find natto (fermented soy beans) to be utterly flavorless, because apparently there is a weird genetic wiring thing where either you can or cannot taste them. Either way, given you're not going with adventurous people I'd avoid this dish.