[Photograph: Jessie Pascoe]

Hidden in the basement of a Midtown office building, Sakagura attracts sake aficionados and those looking for authentic Japanese dishes and top-notch service. And while the dinner menu can place quite a dent in your wallet, their lunch offerings remain surprisingly affordable. Sure, they have de rigueur bento box specials and the like, but what caught our eye was their Kakiage Tempura ($11), a spin on traditional tempura.

Sakagura's Kakiage tempura brings together chopped shrimp with slivers of carrots, pumpkin, asparagus and onion for a fried nest to dip in the umami-rich tempura sauce. The magic happens when the sauce and tempura combine: the slightly greasy Kakiage soaks up the sauce and fires off contrasting flavors (salty and rich) and textures (crispy and soupy). So don't forget to dip!

A tip: you most likely will be come addicted to this dish and this place, so make sure to take advantage of Sakagura's loyalty program. Plan to eat early (from 11:30 AM to12 PM), to start filling up a stamp card that earns you free treats, like complimentary dessert (5 stamps), soba sets (10 stamps), Sake-Ikura Don sets (20 stamps) and Gozen Soba sets (30 stamps).


211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017 (map)

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