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I know this may seem old, but things are changing quickly. What is the best Izakayas now? My friends love Izakayas and are visiting New York in March.

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  1. Sakagura is my favorite. Blue Ribbon Izakaya is good but I don't really think it is a true Izakaya

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodwhisperer

      Sakagura is great. I love it. I have been going there for 7 or 8 years now. It's a bit pricey now though, and less homey than it used to be.

    2. There's no killer izakaya here and there is nothing really new from the last time you requested this a few months ago. Sakagura for sake, Yakitori Totto for yakitori, Sake Bar Hagi is cheap. Hakata Tonton is basically an izakaya. Have you looked into Yopparai (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/856331) ? That opened last year.

      28 Replies
      1. re: Silverjay

        ...Uminoie for shochu and so-so food or counter at Donburiya after 10pm if you like chatting with the girls on staff...

        1. re: Silverjay

          Have you tried Rockmeisha or Bugs? How about Fukurou (opened recently I heard). How is Yopparai?

          1. re: foodlovergeneral

            Silverjay: thanks for the link and review of Yopparai.
            Foodlovergeneral: you ask how is Yopparai, I think you should read the link Silverjay sent you.
            Yopparai sounds like a place I need to check out.
            Rockmeisha I really like a lot, the food is great, the crowd in general is not to my liking but if you sit at the chef counter its more to my liking. The crowd mostly is drunk , loud, non-japanese. The juke box has 50's and 60's songs.
            Bugs: is homemade food in a small quiet place. They didn't have their liquor license last time i was there.
            Fukurou: is small, some dishes are good ( fried baby aji). most dishes are not so good.
            Decibel might be interesting if you haven't been there. It's they have some good Izakaya dishes and reasonably priced sake and shochu and beer.
            Kosmose: thanks for mentioning Sakamai. I've passed by there but never checked it out. Now I surely will

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              Thanks for your great input on all the izakayas. Very helpful. Can you bring your own liquor to bugs since they have no license? Is that legal in NYC? Anyone?

              1. re: foodlovergeneral

                They may have their liquor license now, i'm not sure. When they didn't , they did not allow you to byob. They had non-alcohol beer

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  When I went to Bugs relatively recently (two months ago?) she still did not have a liquor license.

                  Rockmeisha's food can be quite good, but I agree about the comments wrt the crowd. They aren't always there, or necessarily perpetually obnoxious, but it can get irritating.

                  Decibel and Hagi are similar, and both fairly reliable, but Decibel is a little rougher around the edges.

                  Re: Silverjay's Yopparai write up, I liked it as well, but I guess I felt the sticker shock a bit more. The bill really can get out of hand.

                  1. re: PatientWolf

                    Unfortunately, sake is about double the price here vs. Japan, so a few drinks can really add up. I did suggest in the write-up that it's probably better for a second or third stop in the evening- maybe for a drink or two with a dish or two, as opposed to a full blowout meal.

                    1. re: Silverjay

                      That's very good advice, Silverjay, I'm sorry I missed it in your write-up. Also, as an addendum to my earlier statement, Bugs is applying for a liquor license, and may very well get it before your visit in March, OP.

                      1. re: PatientWolf

                        Bugs applied for the liquor license when they first opened. It sure is taking a long time. On another note, and probably better for a discussion board, with sake so popular and good sake pretty expensive, has any US spirit or wine maker, tried to make and market any sake. If not, why not?

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          I don't know how popular it really is here, but anyway, there are some producers in California and Oregon.

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Thanks for the response, I'll have to research and try the West Coast sake. I haven't seen any. I guess I think sake is more popular these days, is because I see more sake bars, and more sake choices in sushi restaurants than years ago.

                            1. re: foodwhisperer

                              And if the dudebros dining across from my date and I at Zenkichi last night were any indication of a norm, I'd have to agree with foodwhisperer: sake is getting more popular, and not solely among the crowds you'd expect.

                              1. re: PatientWolf

                                Well sake consumption in Japan continues to decrease despite improving quality product. So hopefully US can pick up the slack.

                                1. re: Silverjay

                                  interesting, why is sake consumption declining? less popular with young people?

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    Yes. Shochu, beer, and wine are more popular. And sake has a reputation for causing bad hangovers. It's all too bad as the sake brewers these days make so many excellent products.

                                    1. re: Silverjay

                                      ahh ok that makes sense...although sake giving a worse hangover than shochu? haha

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Shochu is a distilled spirit and is relatively clean and also, often mixed with oolong tea or something, so you get some hydration when you drink. So actually, it's quite true.

                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                          haha i dont know, all of these things give me a bad hangover except beer

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            Well if you just eat a bowl of ramen at 3am, you'll feel fine the next day no matter what you drink. lol.

                                          2. re: Silverjay

                                            Since oolong tea has caffeine, it won't hydrate you; quite the reverse.

                                            1. re: plf515

                                              Most of the tea and the ice it is served on is water. It hydrates you.

                          2. re: PatientWolf

                            i went to Bugs for the first time a few days ago: they are serving beer, wine, and sake...

                            1. re: Simon

                              Awesome. Their application must be about extending the hours they can serve, then.

                              1. re: Simon

                                That's good news, that they finally got their liquor license. Did you enjoy the food?

                      2. re: foodlovergeneral

                        Bugs was BYO when i went a few months ago (nov?)call to confirm before going...

                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                          i had drinks there last month...

                    2. re: foodlovergeneral

                      i like the gyoza and grilled tonsoku at Rockmeisha

                      their ramen is alright as well

                    3. re: Silverjay

                      Your recent rec for oden was solid.
                      "izakaya", hmmm
                      ink dries quickly ... http://neojaponisme.com/2011/11/28/th...

                    4. Recently opened Sakamai is pretty solid with contemporary Japanese dishes. I love their egg on egg on egg, which is sea urchin and caviar on egg custard.

                      I like Momokawa for more traditional dishes. They have sukiyaki and many other otsumami, but I particularly like their chicken karaage.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: kosmose7

                        agreed on sakamai, i like the dishes you recommended there

                        1. re: kosmose7

                          It looks like sakamai has a very small menu at least on their website. Do they offer a number of specials there?

                          1. re: kosmose7

                            Can you say a bit more about Sakamai? WHere was that beautiful K-Town restaurant that you tood a picture of (meal with your parents)? Looked like a great spot visually. Great view.

                          2. Does Bohemian count? +1 for Yakitori Totto but maybe not casual enough? Yoparai looks interesting but I need to try that Sake Bar Hagi (thx Silverjay!) as I love cheap good Japanese. Have you tried Sake Bar Decibel? Haven't been there in ages so not sure if it's what you're looking for. What about Yakitori Taisho? Try the Sochu Sampler for like $8 and get bascially three full glasses of Sochu! Gotta thank my foodie friend for that find!

                            1. If your in the East Village, Uminoie at 86 E 3rd St (between !st and 2nd) is a pretty solid choice.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lsclark

                                What in particular have you enjoyed there?

                              2. What are your opinions of Sun Chan on Broadway and 103rd?

                                I quite like it, but I am no expert on izakaya food. Is it in the same league as the places mentioned here?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: plf515

                                  what, no response?
                                  fo'get 'bout it ... This is straight up twee.

                                  1. re: plf515

                                    Sorry, not remotely in the league of any mentioned spots. It's not really an izakaya either, more of a general homestyle Japanese restaurant. I went a couple of times last year and found it tolerable at best. Sorry, can't remember details except that some fish we got was old. Suffice it to say, I don't plan to return. I had fond memories of the place from when it used to be called Jo Ann or something like that years ago, but I wish I had left them as memories.

                                  2. I haven't been at enough Izakaya in NYC to say this one's the best, but my wife & I had an amazing meal at Aburiya Kinnosuke, 213 E 45th St.

                                    Blue fin tuna tartare, Robata Chicken, slow-simmered Berkshire pork, house-made tofu with three salts and a delectable Ankake Yakisoba. We got there at 10:30pm close to closing and the meal knocked our socks off. I'm curious to hear what others think...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Scott O

                                      Aburiya Kinnosuke is well known to many on this board. I love the place, have been going at least once a month for years. Great place to get together with a group of friends and order almost everything on the menu.

                                    2. I also like Aburiya. But closer to home, I'm at Rockmeisha in the Village a couple of times a month. Casual, comforting, good food, some quirks, and the price is right. I went to Fukurou on Sunday and I wish I had stuck with my usual Rockmeisha Sunday meal. There were some good dishes such as the avocado tofu and the chicken wings, but otherwise I thought it was overpriced and service was indifferent

                                      1. Ok, almost a year late for this conversation, any idea which are good now? Rockmeisha is listed as closed now.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: cfulton99

                                          Personally I think Sakamai is still quite good - I may be a bit biased, as I live in the area, but it hits all the right notes for me: dishes strike a reasonable balance between experimentation and comfort, the list of sake is extensive, and the service and ambiance are sublime. Aburiya is too often less than satisfying, for me at least.

                                          1. re: cfulton99

                                            where does it say its closed?

                                            1. re: cfulton99

                                              I've always enjoyed yakitori totto...

                                              1. re: cfulton99

                                                I passed by Rockmeisha 2weeks ago and it was still open.
                                                However, the last time I was there, the owner was doing everything. Apparently his grill guy left.
                                                Lau's yelp link doesn't show Rockmeisha as closed, neither does Menu Pages.
                                                I really like Rockmeisha. Especially Tonsoku, potato salad, shumai, mackerel..... I guess i like everything. I hope it didn't close.

                                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                  yah it doesnt look like its closed?

                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                    i may try to go tonite. I'll report back