Sake, a Japanese rice wine, is a staple in Japanese cuisine and is normally served in a small porcelain bottle called a tokkuri and a small porcelain cup called a guinomi. Centuries have passed and this once occasional drink has turned into a must-get at the bar scene. Sake bars might be a rarity in other places, but in New York you can find several of them. Here are NYC’s top 10 sake bars.
Sakagura is a perfect place for sake lovers with its welcoming presence, classic Japanese décor and wide variety of sake. Hidden in the nooks and crannies of Midtown East, this bar is wonderful for happy hour, seminars, meetings or just casual hang outs. Their exotic food adds a burst of flavor to your palate, while the sake complements the food well. With amazing food, interesting sake, and good people, nothing could go wrong here.
Opened in 1993, this bar offers New Yorkers a taste of the history of sake in Japan. Decibel is the perfect dinner spot for the family, and provides a nice change to the average American cuisine. The food is unconventional and delicious, and the décor is filled with huge porcelain cats, medium-sized Japanese lanterns, hand fans and handcrafted wall scrolls. When you’re done drinking your sake, have one of their unique desserts like their amazing kasutera, which is Japanese sponge cake.
SakaMai is not your classic Japanese restaurant. Instead of a heavy Japanese style, they like to keep things a bit more simple. Their décor is very minimalistic, but this restaurant brings the heat with their food, specialty drinks and culinary presentation. On top of having great food and a sophisticated atmosphere, they also have introductory sake classes with beverage director Jamie Graves, where you can learn about the different kinds of sake and their history, while tasting delicious samples.
Bozu is a trendy sushi and sake bar that only uses the highest quality ingredients for their dishes. The chef-owner Makoto Suzuki has incorporated Italian and Japanese cuisine to make some extraordinary dishes like pumpkin risotto croquettes stuffed with mozzarella and unconventional sushi ‘bombs.’ Along with great food, they have an extensive list of sakes and rare drinks, like the wasabi margarita.
At Kirakuya, if the sake isn’t Jizake, then it’s not good enough. Jizake means ‘local sake’ in Japanese, and it is usually produced in the countryside of Japan. Jizake has a very unique taste compared to other sakes, and can be excellently paired with a variety of foods that Kirakuya serves. The restaurant also has offerings from other Asian cuisines, including Chinese and Thai.
Years of experimentation and dedication have made Tanoshi Sushi what it is today. The chef, Toshio, pays an immense amount of attention to perfecting the art of sushi and sake, and even created his own soy sauce, believing that he could balance the flavors better. He started his training in Tokyo and then came to New York City to show the world his brilliant and innovative ideas, and in return he has produced delectable and memorable experiences for his customers.
Hi-Collar is a coffee bar by day, sake bar by night. This chic, 13-seat bar is perfect for small groups. They serve unique sakes such as Tatsuriki Akitsu and Katsuyama, along with sweet and savory munchies which would satisfy any sake lover. With the subtle Japanese décor of cherry blossoms hanging down the ceiling, Hi-Collar was inspired by the Japanese Jazz Age.
Delicious food and great sake are easy to find, but what about karaoke? This amazing place allows you to get a free drink if you beat the challenge board that’s over the bar. Perfect for large groups, Japas 27 serves very generous helpings of food and liquor. The bar has classic Japanese décor and gives you the option to either book a private room, sit at the bar or at the tables, along with friendly service.
This lounge bar is situated in a SoHo-style brownstone and has three levels, the ground level is great for intimate gatherings, the second level offers seating for 75 people and is intended for group hangouts, and the third level is for private parties. Bondst has an elegant interior that sets a calm ambience for everyone to enjoy and relax, all while overlooking the cobblestoned Bond Street.
Oishi Bay is a perfect place for couples with its dimly lit and secluded environment. They also have newly-built counter that allows you to see how they make your sushi rolls and drinks, and they are currently expanding their business to bring more customers in. Even though it is located in Midtown East, they focus on making their business more relaxed and low-key in this forever busy town.