The other night at Hagi I had the most wonderful drinking snack: gobo chips with spicy mentaiko mayo. Never heard of them? Neither had I, but when the bartender Sean told me that gobo was burdock root, I decided to give the $5 special a try. The only other time I’d eaten gobo was as panchan at a Korean restaurant.
The Japanese call them gobo chippsu mentaiko mayonezu—I call them crazy good. The long, thin burdock root had been shaved into thin slices and then perfectly fried. They were crunchy, nutty, and almost impossible to stop eating. What’s more, as they cooled they maintained their crunchiness.
The dipping sauce wasn’t quite spicy enough, but that was easily fixed with a liberal shake of shichimi pepper. Incidentally, burdock is supposed to help remove toxins from the body—sounds like the exact kind of munchies every izakaya needs.
Sake Bar Hagi
152 West 49th Street, Manhattan 10019 (b/n Sixth and Seventh avenues; map)