Sake Bar Hagi has received so much media attention, including a New York Times review and a segment on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations that it's often impossible to get into. Nevertheless it remains one of my favorite izakaya in Manhattan, due in part to the sheer incongruousness of its Times Square location. Add to that a fairly priced selection of sakes and some interesting specials and I’m one happy gaijin.
This quartet of fried goodness that I ordered the other night was listed on the specials board as “mini corn dogs (no meat).” I couldn’t resist such a beguiling description and took the plunge for a mere $7. When I first read that they were meatless, I was fully prepared to bite through the golden batter and find fish cake, but what I ended up discovering was far better. Each mini corn dog was filled with a mild melted cheese, similar to bonbel, that formed a perfect combination with the sweet, wafflelike batter. And it’s even better dipped in the accompanying mustard and ketchup. A Japanese speaking friend tells me that this bizarre take on county fair fare is known as Ameriken chiizu doggu. You may want to keep a cold drink handy for when the screaming hot chiizu first oozes out. Thankfully, cold libations are never a problem at Hagi.
Sake Bar Hagi
152 West 49th Street, Manhattan 10019 (b/n Sixth and Seventh avenues; map) 212-764-9549