Sakagura [211 E. 43rd St. (bet. 2nd and 3rd Aves.) 212-953-7253]
Such good food, and such small portions! This extremely authentic Japanese restaurant, located in the basement of a midtown building, will not let you order sushi deluxe, because sushi is not even served here. But excellent and creative dishes are certainly on display. Most of the dishes are served tapas style and the food arrives extremely quickly. Try the roast deck negimaki and the deep fried shrimp balls to start. For more entree-like fare, I suggest the toro with citrus ponzu sauce and the even better beef with citrus ponzu sauce. The beef comes raw and you must cook it with lard on a hot stone. It is remarkably flavorful. I topped off my meal with a bowl of udon noodles and mushrooms. Unfortunately the only problem with this restaurant is that if you have big appetite, you will leave hungry unless you spend at least $50. All this and I haven't even mentioned the sake. Sakagura offers an extensive sake list, even going so far as to suggest appropriate pairings of food and sake. It is definitely a classy restaurant (and apparently it has quite the lunch special too).