Walk into the lobby of a high-rise office building in Midtown Manhattan and ask the concierge for Sakagura. They’ll send you down a flight of stairs deep into the bowels of the skyscraper, where you’ll take a few marked turns to find your destination. It’s not a broom closet or a freight elevator. It’s one of the largest sake bars in the city.
Selected for its low rent, the space opened in 1996 and became one of the early portals into Japanese nightlife for Manhattanites. While concepts like izakaya, sake, and hibachi have gone mainstream, Sakagura is still literally underground.
Replete with ikebana, paper lanterns, bamboo accents, and a wall lined with sake taru barrels, the dimly lit, subterranean space transports you to midnight in Tokyo. The menu features all the classics you’d expect from an izakaya, from chawanmushi to chicken karaage. Its impressive sashimi offerings and an array of grilled items served on hot stones are surefire crowd-pleasers as well, but Sakagura’s crown jewel is its sake menu, with more than 260 options available.
The sake menu divides its offerings into technique and, within those categories, by region. If there’s something for everyone, there’s also a lot that no one at the table has ever heard of. Ever tried a fruit sake made with yuzu citrus, peach, and strawberry? Cedar-aged sake? What about sparkling sake?
With all the money you’ll save not having to fly to Tokyo, you could surely afford to do some exploring.