Say it with us now: izakaya.
It's where Japanese sake, shochu, whiskey and beer meet pub food. And thanks to the wave currently cresting over New York, izakaya are where you should head for your combination drinking and dining needs:
SakaMai: The three-part flights ($19 to 35) at this slinky Lower East Side lounge are just the thing for dipping a toe into the vast sake waters. When paired with the warm Atsu-Kan sake selection ($20), the fried lotus-root chips ($6) and the Egg on Egg on Egg dish ($18)--custardy scrambled eggs laden with sea urchin and caviar--metabolize into earthquaking luxury. 157 Ludlow St. (at Stanton St.); 646-590-0684 or sakamai.com
Shigure: Consult the numbered and chalked sake prefecture map on the wall, then dive into the deep sake menu. We crunched happily on rounds of lotus root ($6), and fried chicken marinated with the umami superpowers of shio-koji ($8), then embraced the menu's softer side with a swirl of poached egg in creamy avocado-potato salad ($8). 277 Church St. (at White St.); 212-965-020 or sakebar-shigure.com
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