On Our Radar: Yopparai

Local ingredients and a dizzying sake bar come together in this Manhattan gem

Yopparai is a Japanese restaurant that serves sake and pairs with small plates.
Yopparai is an intimate sake bar with plenty of small dishes to match. (Photo by: Yopparai)

Updated Jul 31, 2018 @ 10:10 am

Tipsy eats need not be fries and grilled cheese (though if you are going the cheesy route, may we suggest something truffled). Thanks to Manhattan’s newest quasi-secret sushi spot, you can get your Yopparai on (Japanese for “drunkard” or “I’m drunk”) with food you can feel good about.

The sake bar and restaurant lets diners choose from over 50 types of sake, with sommeliers on hand for guidance into sushi pairing bliss. Local ingredients dictate most of the daily changing menu, which ranges from fresh sashimi to Japanese barbeque, oden (Japanese soul foods simmered in dashi broth), Yanagawa hot pots and special rice dishes.

We can’t wait to try the organic, free-range chicken meatballs, black cod marinated in sake lees (Kanpai! to making the most of those grains) and, in lieu of sake bombs, the Slimy Bomb. Served house style in a choko sake cup with dried seaweed in a traditional heated box, the Slimy Bomb is a mix of nattō with Japanese vegetables and fish. Nattō, a traditional, pungent and protein dense Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis, is what puts the “slimy” in the bomb. It is popular especially as a breakfast food.

If it’s the sake, not the Slimy Bomb, that’s got you intimidated check out Yopparai’s helpful sake primer. The restaurant’s 30 seats fill up quickly; we recommend reserving your spot and sitting at the sushi bar. Kanpai!

151 Rivington Street, Lower East Side
Open Monday — Saturday, 6pm to midnight.

Images courtesy of Yopparai.