Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Hagi, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Ha-gi. Ha. Gi.

Mabel and I fell in love with the place on our first visit, even though the ceiling was leaking. I didn't know it then, but we were there right at the beginning of the end of an era. We were part of a mad rush to eat there after they got a bit on No Reservations. It hadn't been so crowded before.

We made numerous visits to Hagi over the course of only a few months. What follows are some memories of some of those visits.

1st visit: Sat at the bar. There was a leak in the ceiling. Jan 4. Tried a "peculiar" sake called Sugei.

2nd visit: Came with Ben D. after a vodka and caviar tasting. The 3 of us sat at our usual table. Jan 9.

3rd visit: We were turned away. Got there at 2:10 AM after seeing No Country For Old Men. Learned that the kitchen closes at 2:00. Jan 10.

4rd visit: Nikhil was visiting, so I took him, Nicole, Jason, and Dave there for the first time. We waited about 2 hours for a table. Jan 11. Nikhil and Dave were very gracious with the wait, though. Nicole had a cold. Mabel couldn't make it.

5th visit: We had Yellowtail Collar for the first time. We also had a gross octopus dish. We don't like the texture of mountain yam. Sat at our table. Jan 12

6th visit: Sat at bar again and decided that the bar is the best spot. We discovered the door camera and buzzer system.

7th visit: Got pork belly hotpot and chicken with ponzu. Mabel really liked the chicken. I really liked the hotpot. I tried sweet potato shochu with hot water (Ikkomon) and liked it. Mabel said that it tasted like what you would think warm water should taste. Decided to get a bottle of it the next time. Jan 20. Sat at our table.

We both had weird dreams that night, after eating the pork broth. Mabel dreamt that she was holding a dying talking dog and saying, "Wait are there other German Shepards that can talk?" And then the dog died. I dreamt that my grandmother put my knives in the dishwasher. I kept asking why she would do that. The wood handled one was all chewed up, but the plastic handled one was fine but dull. I told my dad about it in the next room when he asked what all the commotion was about. Mabel never has dreams about talking dogs, and I don't remember any other dreams where I see my grandmother.

8th visit: Went with Josh and Eve after seeing Cloverfield with Josh. Mabel couldn't make it. Jan 23. Sat next to our table.

9th visit: Jan 25. Got the Fried Pork Belly that we'd been meaning to get. Got a bottle of Ikkomon shochu with plum (umeboshi) and hot water (oyu-wari). It came with a thermos of hot water. They save the bottle for you if you can't finish it for up to 3 months. Sat at our table. Sat next to a couple on a bad date. The girl looked so miserable and couldn't get a word in the entire meal.

10th visit: Jan 29. Went to celebrate Mabel's getting into an anesthesiology program. Sat at the bar. Met someone named Caleb who was interviewing for ortho residencies. We ended up sitting at the bar together. It was crazy. He just stumbled on the place because his hotel was nearby. He hit the jackpot.

11th visit: Got a new bottle of shochu (Tomino Hozan) and got to sit at the counter again. Mistakenly ordered a bunch of snack food for dinner, but it was still good. Rayfish fin with mayonnaise is the ideal drinking food. Finished with the deep fried pork belly. Found out that our waitress' name is the same as Mabel's favorite sake.

12th and beyond: At this point, we just lost track

We last ate there on May 1st, when we learned that they were halting their bottle-saving service because of potential legal problems. We ate there before seeing Captain Picard as Macbeth.

I'm not sure we'll ever return. We've moved to the West Village, and we're not so far away from izakayas in the East Village. There are plenty of late night places in our neighborhood. But while the blood still throbs through my writing hand, you are still as much part of blessed matter as I am, and I can still talk to you from here to Alaska. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Hagi.

152 W 49th St (btn 6th and 7th Ave)
New York, NY 10019

1 comment:

dave said...

I am so happy to play even a tangential role in this love story.