Sakagura - A Hidden Treasure
Welcome to Sakagura, a hidden treasure in the heart of New York City. I mean, literally hidden. It's easy to pass up this beautiful, Japanese, tapas restaurant, if you're not actively looking for it. Mostly because, in order to get to the beauty that lies tucked away in its own little world, you have to first make your way down a less-than-impressive hallway, lit with uncomfortable, fluorescent lighting, then descend down an extremely sketchy staircase, into a basement with no cell phone reception whatsoever.
The first time I came here was on a date. On a date with some guy I randomly met at a bar. We hadn't ever gotten together before and I knew practically nothing about him, other than that he had amazing dimples and worked at Louis Vuitton (um, can I use your employee discount please? 'K thannkssss). So, needless to say, as we were walking down the aforementioned, sketchy staircase, into God only knew where, I was still not comforted as my date attempted to reassure me that the restaurant itself had "great reviews." I was too busy wondering if Mr. Dimples had just schmoozed me into making a mistake that would ultimately end with my body being chopped into little pieces and cemented into the walls of a dirty cellar.
Luckily for me, as we turned the corner of the last stair, I found myself standing in a cozy little waiting room, which opened up into a beautiful, dimly lit sanctuary of cherry blossoms and tables garnished with lively flowers. Every table was filled and the hostess informed us there would be a twenty minute wait - a small price to pay for such a nice establishment, just a hop, skip and a jump from Grand Central. The twenty minutes went by fast as Dimples and I went through all the opening lines of a stereotypical first date ("Where are you from? Do you have any siblings? Do you like your job?" and, of course... "so what do you think about cats???"). There was never a lull in conversation because, as mentioned earlier, sneaking a look at my cell phone wasn't an option, due to being so far underground. Just a good, old fashioned date with good, old fashioned conversation. Grandma and grandpa would be so proud.
As we finally made our way past a beautiful display of cherry blossoms and were seated at a tiny table with pretty, pink flowers, I mentally gave Dimples props for doing his research. Sakagura's ambiance was already winning me over and I was more than ready to try the food. But let me not get too ahead of myself - first we ordered some strawberry sake. I was about to ask the waiter for a small carafe, but Dimples beat me to it by ordering an entire bottle (followed by another bottle and a mental high five from me).
As far as the food went, I think we must have ordered one of almost everything on the menu, and it was all delicious. My personal favorite was the Ebi Sticks- deep fried shrimp rolls that left my taste buds begging for more. Even the presentation of the dishes were perfect, right down to the artistically sliced lemon wedges.
And for dessert? The perfect combination of ice cream and crème brulee.
But here's the kicker: After finishing up every last bit of food and practically licking my plate clean, I excused myself to the ladies room, where I confusedly stared at a panel with buttons on the wall for a good, long minute, before deciding to just go for it and push every button like a little kid in a toy store. The result was experiencing a heated toilet seat, complete with bidet. I didn't even know heated toilet seats were a thing. Mind = blown.
In case you're looking for an epilogue, Dimples and I had a great time, but decided to keep it platonic (goodbye, LV employee discount), which is completely fine for this It Girl Friday. I mean, I've always got my cat.
Visit Sakagura here:
211 East 43rd St. (Basement level)
New York, NY
It Girl Friday