10 Great Sake Dens
by Michael Anstendig, New York Observer contributor, 02/27/2009
211 E. 43rd St. • 212-953-7253
Lodged in the basement of an utterly unremarkable Midtown office building, Sakagura represents the mother lode for sake seekers. Its unparalleled selection, more than 200 strong, is easily the most extensive in the US. The place itself, once you’ve found it, suggests the courtyard of a rustic sake brewery in Japan, complete with enormous cedar vats. The cherrywood bar seats 16, and there are ample wood tables and booths with decorative bamboo shades. Scads of multicolored sake bottles and ceremonial casks line the walls to whet the thirsts of the clientele, 30- and 40-something Japanese machers and their American counterparts. The menu is organized by sake category, further subdivided by region. Try Minowamon, a handcrafted junmai daiginjo. With lilac notes, crisp acidity and a creamy texture, it pairs nicely with chilled roast duck and scallion in basil sauce. Tengumai Umajun is another engaging choice. A junmai brewed using laborious old-school methods, its complex aroma and taste stand up to beef ribs or grilled dishes like squid or Japanese eggplant. Sakagura is Gotham’s definitive sake experience.
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