Went last night, Monday 7:30 - 10:00 pm, with two friends.
The service was very good. Attentive, not intrusive. Getting further descriptions of food from the server was difficult because of minimal english skills but the menu has decent descriptions of the dishes. There were a few smaller tables empty but the place was mostly full the whole time we were there.
None in our group had much experience with this type of japanese food. I have been to Saka Gura twice before but just tried one or two things as a side event to tasting some sake.
What we ate (ordered three dishes at a time and they came out when ready - not all three together):
SAIKORO STEAK - diced steak - maybe 25 1x0.5x0.25" pieces of thoroughly cooked steak in/on a light brown, savory, possibly miso-based sauce. Delicious treat with a tasty sauce. Would order again. $12
NASU DENGAKU - six 3x1x1/2" strips of eggplant w/ 3 kinds of thick miso-based sauces - red, yellow and green - two with each kind - tasty and interesting but not a highlight. Would not order again. $12
K??? STICK - about six "lightly" deep fried 3x3/4" straw-like sections with shrimp, seaweed and a vegetable strip or two inside them with an appropriate thick red sauce in a little side dish for dipping. Dish was fine and tasty but nothing any of us found remarkable. I mean, it's shrimp in a lightly fried straw so it's not a particularly rich taste. maybe $7
BUTA KAKUNI - stewed pork - looked like a 3.25x3.25x2.25" cube taken intact (without the skin) from the side or belly. 1/2" layer of fat with lots of nice stringy meat underneath. The cube was in a bowl 1/3 filled with a rich, salty and a little sweet broth. The cube stands up firm in the bowl but after you pick a section off and put it in your mouth, WOW, it all just melts and the fat, meat and broth combine into a great savory experience. Came with a small dollop of yellow mild wasabi on the lip of the bowl. Was great with and without the wasabi. Definitely my favorite dish of the night. Now I wish I had sipped some of the remaining broth straight. And I think it was only $4.50!
Salmon ????? - A sizeable mound of seasoned rice with a thin layer of raw salmon covering it and salmon roe in a pile at the top of the mound. Came with miso soup and a little side of kim chi-type pickled stuff. Very good, salmon, roe and rice were excellent, and more filling than the other dishes because of all the rice. $15 Would order again if interested in a more substantial amount of food.
Medium Fatty Toro - six 0.6x0.6x2" pieces of sashimi. The tuna wasn't as fatty as the average medium fatty tuna I have had in the past but it was good fish. $22
Green Tea Truffles - three cold 1" truffles with the texture of a nice cold chocolate truffle but a light green tea outer shell and a very, very rich green tea filling. Don't eat in one bite. $4.50
Chestnut cake with chestnut ice cream, a chestnut and other creamy and chocolate-ish chestnut things - on specials menu section - good, but I am not the biggest chestnut fan. Very chestnutty. $7
Yam and Sweet Apple thing - on specials menu section - our favorite of the three desserts - Sweet warm yam "patty" with warm sweet apple and cold maybe cream/ice cream on top. Unique and delicious especially if you like apple pie and yams. $7
We had a lot of sake and a few sake coctail things which were all very nice. None of us are particularly experienced with sake. We also had lots of their tea which was good.
Bill was $155 before tip. Not bad for a long dinner with about 3 alcoholic drinks each and lots of new taste experiences.
After the woman in our group returned from the bathroom to report on the heated toilet/bidet combo, which is not provided in the men's facilities, we all took it for a spin. Excellent!
Address / Directions:
211 E. 43rd St. between 2nd and 3rd Aves. Unmarked from the street, you enter the non-descript office building (there is another Japanese restaurant accessible from the street on the street level of the building - named Hapon - do not go to that) and follow the signs to the stairway to the left past the guard, and then down one flight of steps into the basement and straight ahead to the entrance door. A great "hidden" space down there.
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