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Mike Colameco's Real Food

Mike Colameco gives viewers access to the best kitchens in the world and talks to real chefs, in real restaurants cooking real recipes. It’s an insider’s guide and behind the scenes look from a chef’s perspective on how these restaurants are putting together their dishes. Meet the owners, chef’s and their crews; hear their stories and eat some amazing food.

Natalie GrahamComment
The Infatuation

In the late ’70s or early ’80s, sundried tomatoes “arrived” in America, and slowly but surely, they became the coolest thing in town. Restaurant after restaurant started adding them to dishes, because they were fancy and exotic and all around announced that you were classy. Do you remember going to a restaurant in the ’90s? There were SO MANY SUNDRIED TOMATOES.

Fortunately, the ’90s are over and no one has to subsist on sundried tomato and goat cheese paninis anymore (NOT HATIN’). But there is a quickly rising sundried tomato of our time (or at least of hip New York restaurants in 2015). It is sea urchin.

Natalie GrahamComment
Eataku

Last week, I posted how SakaMai, the popular Lower East Side Japanese izakaya, recently started serving brunch. I made a beeline there on Saturday to try Chef Takanori Akiyama’s new Japanese & Hawaiian inspired menu for myself. Here’s a look…

Natalie GrahamComment
The Wandering Eater

Since Chinese New Year is still around (it’s roughly three weeks long) and my parents insist upon having a family dinner out, we ended up agreeing to eat at Sakamai. As a family, we like Japanese food but what appeals to us the most about Sakamai is the creative dishes served for an izakaya (a casual sake pub, so to speak). The menu has a few luxurious ingredients like uni (sea urchin) and foie gras dabbled with the likes of other ingredients like tuna or scrambled eggs. It is not your average drinking fare as this is more of a thoughtful, maybe a bit more serious food that you would have with your sake or any other alcoholic beverage.

Natalie GrahamComment
Village Voice

Last May at a Wine & Spirits magazine "Top of the List" event in NYC, attendees swirled Bordeaux and munched on concept-forward small bites, much as they do at similar events around the country. The difference here was that for the first time in the event's history, it allowed food to be paired with sake instead of wine...

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SakaMai New YorkComment
Village Voice

In this week's Village Voice, James A. Foley heads to SakaMai, the Lower East Side sake bar that turns out, in addition to a well-edited list of Japanese rice wine, a menu of revamped Izakaya fare that's more Japan-inspired than traditional. Bradley Hawks stopped by the restaurant to capture shots of the dishes and bar. Check out his photos, and then head over to read Foley's complete account of SakaMai ...

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SakaMai New YorkComment
Lady of Grand

My cultural hipness factor is teetering on a 5..maybe…but mostly because I have not yet traveled to Japan or anywhere in Asia for that matter.  It is on the bucket list of travel destinations, but until then I have engulfed myself in the various cultures within this city. This does not just mean eating excessive amounts of sushi, although that wouldn’t be the worst thing…

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SakaMai New YorkComment
What Shi Eats

As some of you may know, I was invited to be a judge for Tabelog, a Japanese restaurant review site that is huge in Japan and just starting to make its mark here. The reviews and ratings are generated by aggregating information from the top X amount of bloggers in a given area. The ratings are therefore meant to be more legit. “For Foodies By Foodies” is the idea. I wonder if the reviews will be lower or higher than average Yelp reviews… food bloggers are definitely more critical than the average Joe, which makes me think reviews will be harsher on Tabelog. On the other hand, bloggers also are more likely to be friends with folks in the restaurant business or be invited to blogger events, after which they are almost required to give higher ratings ...

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SakaMai New YorkComment
Eat Like a Lady

Last night, I went to a meet and greet event for the bloggers who were invited to participate in Tabélog’s Food Blogger Awards. Tabélog is the number one restaurant review site in Japan, and has since launched in the United States. Check them out at http://www.tabelog.us/. The event was at SakaMai, a Japanese restaurant and saki lounge on the Lower East Side. Chef Takanori Akiyama prepared a number of samples that can also be found on the regular menu.

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SakaMai New YorkComment
Chubby Chinese Girl

Dear Food Diary:

Right before leaving for Japan this summer, my friend J and I had a great get together over sake and Japanese style tapas at SakaMai.

Their Egg on Egg on Egg has been on my mind ever since (even after coming back from Japan). Definitely one the highlights of our meal ...

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SakaMai New YorkComment
Village Voice

Omakase--or chef's choice--usually only applies to sushi offerings at high-end Japanese spots. But SakaMai takes the concept to a brand-new level by moving it from the sushi bar to the sake bar, offering a cocktail omakase night that's distinctive in this city.

The concept is simple: Take a seat at the bar and let head mixologist Shingo Gokan take you through a tantalizing tour of tastes with round after round of cocktails he creates for you on the spot. The drinks are paired with small bites from executive chef Takanori Akiyama, and the duo works together closely to create the menu. Just don't expect to know what's coming--the pair plays its hand close to the chest, says SakaMai owner and creative director Natalie Graham; even she usually doesn't know what the duo has in mind until the day before the event ... 

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SakaMai New YorkComment
Village Voice

A bit of sippable good news came by way of the folks over at Sakamai sake lounge: the crew will be hosting its inaugural "sake samurai happy hour" tonight.

Not only is this evocative of a delightfully drunken daimyo, it means that tonight and one Thursday per month from now on, sake sensei Tim Sullivan (who runs the Urban Sakewebsite) and certified sake sommelier Chizuko Niikawa will be behind Sakamai's pour bar filling glasses full of premium sake while offering tasting notes and sagely sake suggestions and fielding questions from drinkers.

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SakaMai New YorkComment
Village Voice

 SakaMai

Not known for cutting corners, SakaMai has the most robust selection of Japanese craft beers of any restaurant we've found in New York City, which is even more impressive considering the place markets itself as a spot to drink sake. There are more than a dozenJapanese craft brews on the menu, including Baird Rising Sun APA, four Coedo brews, and nearly all of the beers mentioned above. SakaMai also offers enough Japanese whisky and sake to intoxicate a small army. As an added bonus, the Japan-inspired cocktail list is honed by award-winning bartender Shingo Gokan (who came to SakaMai from Angel's Share) ...

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SakaMai New YorkComment
Insatiable Critic

Ever try to get four dames to agree on a spot for dinner? After dozens of “reply all” emails, with each of us invoking hyped-up options, old and new, I leave it to Cassandra to resolve the cackle. Cassandra, like me, eats dinner out six nights a week. She’s high on SakaMai, especially a dish called egg on egg on egg. “With sea urchin,” she says, and uni-mad that I am, she’s got me in line ...

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NYC Foodie

I discovered a Japanese gem in the Lower East Side and you need to check it out ASAP. In fact, I'll go with you, 'cause I want to try the entire menu. I went solo last night, and had a magical culinary adventure, but I wanted to eat more. Help me. Let's all go!

The place is called Sakamai, and their website says it's "New York City's First Dedicated Sake Lounge". They might have fabulous sake to choose from and great cocktails curated by Shingo Gokan of Angel's Share fame, but it's the food by Chef Takanori Akiyama that was my main focus last night.

Uni Crostini ($8) was an orgasm in my mouth. I'm in love with sea urchin, and here, it is torched and topped with Parmesan Reggiano flakes. Magical ...

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